International development co-operation and public opinion
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In several EU countries international development co-operation is subject of public discourse. For a number of reasons Hungarian society is characterised by a low level of public awareness concerning international development issues, which negatively affects its support. Although Hungary belonged to the aid recipient countries only for a few years after the change of the political system, the feeling of neediness remains in Hungarian society. The paper presents the results of an empirical study based on a series of semi-structured interviews with members of an elite group. Research results indicate that it is not only the broader public, but also the elite which have only little understanding of the country's role in international development co-operation. Another finding is that while decision makers elaborate development co-operation policies - as part of foreign affairs - on the basis of interests, citizens consider development primarily as a moral issue. The paper concludes that without public support, development assistance is often among the first budget items to be cut in times of recession. On the other hand, greater public awareness and understanding of development issues could keep them on the domestic political agenda and protect the country's commitments.
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