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Hungary issues an anti-EU survey to citizens on migration, support for Ukraine and LGBTQ+ rights

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary’s government on Friday released a set of questions for an informal survey it will send to voters on a number of divisive issues including migration, LGBTQ+ rights, and support for Ukraine, including a proposal to block further European Union assistance to Kyiv unless the bloc releases frozen funds to Hungary.

The survey, which the government calls a “national consultation,” contains 11 questions and strikes a combative tone toward the EU, which it accuses of trying to force policies on Hungary.

One question asks whether Hungary should block an EU plan to provide a four-year, 50 billion euro (nearly $53 billion) aid package for Ukraine unless the bloc unfreezes billions in assistance to Hungary that it has held up over concerns that the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has failed to uphold rule-of-law and human rights standards.

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“They are asking Hungary for additional support (for Ukraine) even as our country has not received the EU funds due to it,” says one segment of the survey.

“We should not pay more to support Ukraine until we have received the money we are owed,” one possible answer says.

Hungary’s national consultation surveys, conducted numerous times by Orbán’s right-wing populist government since it took power in 2010, have been widely criticized by pollsters and opposition parties as propaganda tools that are manipulative in their phrasing and highly suggestive of desired answers.

Orbán’s government says the surveys strengthen its bargaining position on the European level by demonstrating a national consensus on political issues.

The surveys are sent by mail to every Hungarian of voting age, but bear no legally binding relevance. They generally receive responses from fewer than 20 percent of Hungarian adults, yet the responses reflect up to 99 percent agreement with the government’s position.

One question released Friday says the EU “wants to create migrant ghettos in Hungary” and asks whether respondents think Hungary should “accept Brussels’ migration plans,” or prevent the creation of migrant ghettos.

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Another says the EU wants Hungary to repeal a contentious law that bans the availability of LGBTQ+ content to minors and warns of “aggressive LGBTQ propaganda” targeting children.

The survey includes other questions about Ukraine, including a proposal that the EU cease military aid to Kyiv and opposition to talks over Ukraine eventually becoming an EU member.

Hungary’s government has refused to supply Ukraine with weapons since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022 and has opposed EU sanctions on Moscow for its aggression.

In the last national consultation, which concluded in January, the government said 97 percent of Hungarians opposed sanctions against Russia though fewer than 1.4 million people returned the survey in a country of 9.7 million.

The surveys can be returned until Jan. 10, 2024, but the government in the past has extended such deadlines to increase participation.