No Olympics for Budapest? Hungarian journalist proposes referendum to oppose 2024 Summer Games

Hungarian journalist Katalin Erdélyi submitted a referendum proposal to the National Election Commission, in the hope of giving Hungarian citizens the right to vote on whether Budapest should continue its bid to host the 2024 Summer Games. Both the Hungarian government and the Budapest municipal government are enthusiastically supporting the bid to host the Olympics in the Hungarian capital, even though many are concerned about the potential negative impact on the environment, urban development, the exorbitant cost, the rotting away of infrastructure after the games and the almost certain abuse of the dismally paid Hungarian “közmunkás”–people who are hired by the state and municipalities as cheap labour on public works projects.

Ms. Erdélyi, who writes for the liberal Átlátszó.hu website, is opposed to Budapest hosting the 2024 Summer Games and her proposed referendum questions reflects this. It reads:

“Do you agree that Parliament should rescind Law Number LVIII of 2016, on the bid to host the 33rd Summer Olympics and the 17th Paralympics?”

The National Election Commission has five days to approve or reject Ms. Erdélyi’s question. If it allows for the referendum to proceed, Ms. Erdélyi and her supporters will have to collect 200,000 signatures of those who stand by the initiative.

As the 444.hu liberal news site correctly notes, the Budapest Municipal Council accepted the bid to host the 2024 Olympics, without first examining the feasibility study on the significant impact that the international event would have on the nation’s capital. City councillors were only given an abridged and highly optimistic summary of this study, compiled by the city leadership, which staunchly supports hosting the games.

Public officials have already spent 7 billion forints on preparing and promoting the bid. Prime MinisterViktor Orbán, speaking at the Rio Olympics in August, claimed that Hungarians are united in supporting the Budapest 2024 bid. This claim is false, considering that a Publicus poll in August showed that 35% of Hungarians categorically reject the idea of hosting the Olympics in Budapest, while 15% said that they are more opposed to it, than supportive. Only 45% indicated that they would support hosting the Olympics and 5% were undecided.

Olympic Park in Budapest.

Olympic Park in Budapest.

Budapest Mayor István Tarlós, also affiliated with Fidesz, called earlier attempts to hold a referendum on the bid nothing more than political demagoguery, as it is within the purview of elected municipal officials to make such decisions.

This is not the first time that Ms. Erdélyi proposes a referendum on the Budapest 2024 bid. Her initial submission, which was approved by the Budapest Election Commission, was later rejected by the Supreme Court of Hungary (the Kúria), as the plebiscite proposal was initially aimed at only Budapest residents, while the court ruled that it was a question of national significance. As well, since the proposal was made just before the official bid was submitted, the Kúria used this as another reason to reject the idea of a plebiscite.

Ms. Erdélyi, who noted that the initial decision to reject her proposal was politically motivated, hopes for success on her second attempt.

6 Comments

  1. Charlie London says:

    The referendum will be rejected because not all pages were signed – they missed the blank page at the end.

    Or there was a spelling mistake.

    Or the wrong colour paper.

    …or on A4 and not ‘legal’.

  2. EdwardV. Gorog says:

    The idea of Hungary hosting the Olympic games would mark a very positively significant moment for most Hungarians at home or abroad. Yet my gut reaction is that it will take several generations to breed out the present thug/fascist thinking, before they can feel at home in a truly democratic and politically transparent system. I therefore defer to Charlie London as being correct in his comments.

  3. Los Angeles 2024!

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