Let’s stop the enemy!

A Critical Discourse Analytical case-study of a national consultation

  • Natalia Borza


In April 2017, the Hungarian government launched a national consultation entitled ‘Let’s stop Brussels’ focusing on topical issues such as Brussels’ prohibition of reductions in household utility charges; illegal immigration; foreign attempts to influence the domestic political scene; Brussels’ attacks on tax reductions and job creation programmes in Hungary. The present study investigates whether there is any extent of manipulation applied in the questionnaire of the consultation sent to Hungarian eligible voters by using van Dijk’s (2006) triangulated Critical Discourse Analytical (CDA) approach. Van Dijk’s three-layered approach to the investigation of manipulation in discourse is an integrated theory that establishes links between three different dimensions of manipulation: society, cognition and discourse. A CDA framework allows a text to be evaluated as manipulative in terms of its context categories rather than merely in terms of its textual elements. Accordingly, the presence of manipulation in the discourse of the national consultation is explored by examining the balance in its participants and in the information shared; by considering its influence on social cognition; and by revealing the rhetorical techniques applied in the discourse of the set of questions. The results of the study show that various techniques of manipulation were applied in all the three layers of the discourse of the consultation.

Language and Linguistics: Results