Integrity Lab has recently conducted a series of representative opinion polls regarding the attitudes of Hungarian towards female politicians, and the possible reasons of low participation of women in politics. The extremely low, 10%-level of female MPs in the Hungarian parliament, and the lack of inequality issues in the political agenda makes it quite relevant to try better know and understand the problems concerning men and women in Hungary as perceived by the voters and the possible social-demographic factors behind them.
Hungarians think that gender pay gap is the biggest inequality problem concerning the situation of men and women. Pay gap is followed by the issues of female role expectations in raising children and violence against women. The three main issues and their order are identical based on the answers of both men and women. According to Integrity Lab’s latest nationwide representative opinion poll, violence against women is considered to be the smallest problem by governing Fidesz voters, while LMP’s (the Hungarian Green Party) voters say it is the most important one.
Figure 1: The results of an opinion poll devoted to the biggest problems of men and women as perceived by Hungarian voters (full sample)
As a part of the research we were analyzing seven social issues, four of which concern women, two – men and one issue that can be related to both males and females. In the ranking the first three places go to issues related to women (pay gap, tasks as a mother, violence). Not only females, but also male respondents marked these issues as the most important ones. One in two women (53 percent) and one-third of men identified pay gap as the key issue.
Figure 2: The results of an opinion poll devoted to the biggest problems of men and women as perceived by Hungarian voters (full sample)
33% of the respondents said that the biggest problem is posed by social expectations towards women as regards raising children, while 31% think violence against women is the greatest one of all. These are followed by the two issues concerning only men: lower life expectancy (18%) and the social expectations towards men to be adeqaute family providers. At the end of the list we can find the issue of a small number of female leaders along with expectations and prejudices afflicting both sexes – 14–15% marked these as significant problems.
Gender roles, expectations and prejudice based on appearance are of great importance for the youngest generation – one-third of the respondents aged between 18 and 29 marked these as the most important issues, which means that these are more substantial here than in any other age group. The impact of age can also be observed in the case of pay gap and violence against women, which were referred to as the most relevant issues by older people – their opinion is probably based on their past experiences.
The difference between the respective groups of voters indicates the influence of political parties on public opinion. As governing Fidesz tries to avoid the issue of violence against women (and the ratification of Istanbul Convention) it is no wonder that only one-fifth of its voters identified this matter as an important problem. On the other hand, LMP’s voters – the supporters of Bernadett Szél’s party, which has been actively pushing the issue of ratification of the Istanbul Convention for years – marked this issue as the most relevant problem.
Moreover, for the supporters of left-liberal parties the issue of pay gap is of great importance: 53% think it is the biggest problem of all listed. The majority of people who see the lack of female leaders as a great issue are left-wing voters: 25% say it is a serious problem, while in the entire population this rate is only 15%.
Finally, one of the issues related to men – lower life expectancy – is considered as crucial by the supporters of Jobbik. Which is not surprising, if we bear in mind that one of the party’s election campaign slogans advocated that men would be able to retire at the age of 40.