Hungarian Millennials say “no” to Budapest 2024 Olympics and spearhead referendum

A group of Hungarians in their twenties and thirties called Momentum Mozgalom (Momentum Movement), which sees itself entering the political arena ahead of the 2018 national elections, has received the go-ahead from both the Budapest Election Committee and the Supreme Court of Hungary for a proposed referendum on withdrawing the Hungarian bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Momentum must now collect 138,000 signatures in Budapest within 30 days for the local referendum to proceed. That’s certainly a challenging task, but Momentum’s president, András Fekete-Győr, told the Index news site that the movement has 140 active members who will be sent out to collect signatures at 25 major intersections, public squares or transit stations in the capital. The movement also plans to launch a door-to-door campaign. At the moment, they are covering their expenses through membership dues and small, private donations. They are also hoping to receive help from political parties and activists who may share their disapproval of Budapest hosting the 2024 Summer Games, but who have a better ground game in place.

If the movement collects the necessary number of signatures within one month, a “yes” vote in a referendum presumably held in the late spring would result in a withdrawal of the Budapest 2024 bid.

The Momentum Movement’s campaign, entitled NOlympics (NOlympia in Hungarian), argues that the funds allocated to preparing for the games should be spent on five critical areas instead, namely: public education, public health care, affordable housing, transit and social solidarity programs. The group also points to the detrimental environmental impact of holding the Summer Games in Budapest, including the disappearance of green space and the cutting down of more trees.

Say no to the Olympics, say yes to our future!

Another major reason to withdraw the Budapest 2024 bid is because even the bid campaign itself has resulted in massive overspending. The 2024 Summer Games themselves are expected to cost 774 billion forints to prepare for and host, including the development or redevelopment of recreation infrastructure at 11 different sites in Budapest. But this amount may underestimate the final costs, considering that past Summer Games cost an average of $5.4 billion to host, translating to 1,524 billion forints. According to one calculation, the costs of hosting the Summer Games would amount to 9% of Hungary’s GDP, provided that the project does not go over budget by a single forint. If it does, then Hungary will find itself in an even worse spot than Greece did after the Athens 2004 Summer Games. The other important consideration is the certain and systemic corruption that hosting the Olympics in Budapest will promote, as more public funds flow into the hands of business interests and oligarchs aligned with the Orbán government.

What makes Momentum Movement especially interesting is that they are not actually a single-issue group. It is no secret that the association sees a successful campaign against the Olympics as a stepping stone to then launching broader opposition to the Orbán government. Their long-term aim is to enter the world of party politics.

At the moment, most members of the registered community association are well-educated professionals in their twenties and thirties–primarily teachers, IT-professionals, young lawyers and economists. That is more or less the same demographic mix that led to the formation of almost every political party in Hungary after 1989.

5 Comments

  1. Excellent civic initiative, and a sign, that there are people in Hungary who are not sleeping at the wheel. Now if only there was a parallel movement for NOrbán. He is, after all, the single and most important force behind Hungary’s hosting of the Olympics, Hungary’s championship of autocratic rule inside the European Union.

  2. Antisemites.

  3. NOrbàn campaign. Love it! Where do I send the money?

    1500 bil. HUF is 4.5% GDP.
    If we look at the gov projects in Orbanistan, eg. stadiums or swimming complex, the cost overruns are 100 to 1000%.
    So in the best case the gov debt will jump by 9% to a record be 84%, but most probably to 90%.
    In a trend of rising interest rates this will bring a HUF drop and crisis, all global conditions normal.

    The worst case is Greece on turbo as Hungary doesn’t have EUR, which the EU would be willing to defend.

    The jumping jacks (paprika Jancsi?) don’t mention this scenario.

  4. Donbass

    Very close to dumbass, couldn’t you find some other name, truth be damned.

  5. Kalasz Musztafa says:

    No Olympics in Hungary? Then starve on the streets if that’s what you all leftist wants. Olympics is good investment.

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