Transparency International Hungary (TI), Publicus Institute and the Corvinus University jointly researched in July 2016 what the youths think of corruption and which media broadcasts they follow. Young people do not believe that endemic corruption should be tolerated, this is perhaps the most important lesson learnt from the representative survey of five hundred people between the ages of 18 and 29.
Jozsef Peter Martin, executive director of TI presented the study headlined “Perception of Corruption and Media Consumption of Young People in Hungary” at Budapest’s Sziget Festival. The research reveals that eighty young people out of a hundred think that corruption is a serious problem in Hungary, and 77% of the surveyed consider the political life the most infected with corruption. According to the survey, more than half (54 percent) of young people have personally experienced corruption: 39 percent in healthcare and 29 percent during police procedures.
If you are corrupt you can succeed, if you play it straight, you’ll fail.
71 percent of young people think that people who are willing to engage in acts of corruption have more chance to succeed in life compared to straight, decent people. Much of the surveyed therefore think that corruption is the key for success in Hungary. Young people consider politicians (members of government and of the Parliament, mayors and municipal representatives) to be the most corrupt, for example 84% refer to the shady real estate business of politicians as corruption.
But what exactly young people regard as corruption?
Apart from the questionable enrichment of politicians young people also regard crony capitalism as corruption: 76 percent think that it is a form of corruption when government contracts are awarded to family members and business friends of decision-makers. The government-financed construction of stadiums and the money-drain of the Central Bank (MNB) through its various foundations finished in what can be described as a dead heat: both are considered corruption by 61 percent of young people. The survey shows that the long-term memory of young people is in good shape, as nearly two-thirds of them still consider corruption the scandalous reallocation of tobacco kiosk licenses in 2013 by the government. In addition, three-quarter of the surveyed judged graft the outrageous land auctions and the widespread misappropriation of subsidies from the European Union.
Don’t tolerate it!
Although four-fifths of young people think that corruption pervades the entire country, an even larger percentage (84 percent) feel that this should not be tolerated. Two-thirds of people between the ages of 18 and 29 would be willing to report wrongdoing to the authorities. This is to be welcomed, since according to the 2012 survey of TI, four years ago only a quarter of young Hungarian people would have turned to the authorities with the suspicion of corruption. The majority of those who would not report corruption either fear that they would get in trouble for it or have no faith in the credible investigation of their report.
„Findings of our research illustrate that the youths take corruption for a serious problem in the country and think, it should not go unsanctioned, however they believe that honest people who take a clear stance against corruption have less chance to succeed”
– summarized Jozsef Peter Martin when presenting the survey at Budapest’s Sziget Festival.
Contributions from abroad and from Hungary
TI’s research and campaign has been accomplished with contributions coming from the United States’ Embassy to Budapest, the French Embassy to Budapest and OTP Fund Management Ltd.
Colleen Bell, the United States’ ambassador to Budapest and Iain Lindsay, head of the United Kingdom’s diplomatic mission in Hungary also participated at TI”s event at Sziget Festival. In her remarks, Ambassador Bell stressed:
“I believe that by confronting corruption in a systematic and rigorous way, and by doing the hard work of educating people about the importance of transparency and accountability, this culture of tolerating corruption can change”.
Anne-Marie Maskay, on behalf of the French Embassy to Budapest, underlined:
“Raising awareness among young people is a key element to fighting corruption, in Hungary and everywhere in the world”.
The deputy head of the French diplomatic mission in Hungary added that
“This is why, in what has now become a tradition, France is happy to lend its support to TI Hungary’s 2016 summer campaign at the Sziget Festival”.
State-owned media is silent about corruption, elsewhere it is all over the news
More than half of the surveyed expect the media to inform the people about the risks of corruption. At the same time, frequent news of corruption trigger indifference in young people, and news about thefts in the size of hundreds of millions or billions of Forints is difficult to comprehend. In a focus group with young people it was also stated that due to the excess amount of news on acts of misuse, it is impossible to follow who stole how much. Young people between the ages of 18 and 29 get information mainly from news sites on the Internet, and they regard online newspapers and foreign news channels as trustworthy. Contrarily, they don’t trust state media, and find that it does not report on government corruption.
Methodology of the research
The survey was conducted in July 2016 by using both quantitative and qualitative methods. In the quantitative phrase Publicus Institute questioned 500 people by telephone. The results of the quantitative research is representative among the population of Hungary between the ages of 18 and 29 by their sex, their level of schooling, their region and the type of their residence. In the qualitative phrase Tamas Bokor, professor of the Social Communication Doctoral School – which works beside the Institute of Behavioural Science and Communication Theory in Corvinus University of Budapest – and the students of the Doctoral School organized five focus groups with 31 people and a duration of one and a half hour each. Two focus groups were organized in Budapest, one in Gyongyos, one in Kecskemet and one in Szekesfehervar with participants mixed in sex, level of schooling and age. Participants of the focus groups were Hungarian citizens between the ages of 18 and 29 living in the area of the given location.