Is the Budapest 2024 Olympic bid doomed? A majority of Hungarians oppose it

The Momentum Mozgalom’s campaign to launch a referendum that would force Budapest City Council to withdraw their bid to host the 2024 Summer Games is heading into its final, critical stretch. According to the most recent statistics, Momentum–with the help of the Politics Can Be Different green party (LMP), the Együtt party, Párbeszéd (Dialogue) and some modest assistance from Socialist politicians like MEP Tibor Szanyi–collected just over 110,000 signatures out of 138,000 required to force a referendum. They have one week remaining to get past the finish line, and their actual goal is to collect 170,000 signatures, in order to provide a comfortable buffer in case some of them are deemed invalid by the electoral commission. In the meantime, the Momentum Mozgalom announced that it will register as a political party and will contest the 2018 elections, with what can be termed a socially liberal and economically centre-left platform. Médian, one of Hungary’s most prominent pollsters, released its most recent polling figures and found that Momentum–which was almost completely unknown at the beginning of the year–has already garnered 2% in support, thanks to its very visible and heavily reported NOlimpia campaign.

András Fekete-Győr of Momentum, collecting signatures in Budapest. Photo: MTI.

That is the only bit of good news for the opposition, however, in that most recent Medián poll. Among decided voters, Fidesz reached 60% support, compared to a struggling Jobbik (10%) and a weak Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) at just 10%. Former Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coaliion (DK) stands at 7%, LMP and Együtt are at 3% each, Momentum has 2% and the satirical Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party comes in at 1%. The Hungarian opposition, just 12 months before the 2018 parliamentary elections, remains badly fragmented.

But there is a piece of positive news for Momentum and for all those who passionately oppose the Budapest 2024 bid. A new poll conducted by Závecz Research for the Index news site shows that a majority of Hungarian voters oppose the Budapest 2024 bid. In Budapest, 52% of residents oppose the bid and plan to vote in the upcoming referendum. Only 20% of Budapest residents support the bid and plan to vote, while 12% do not intend to vote. This is a dramatic change in voting intentions compared to September 2016, when only 32% opposed hosting the Olympics.

When only decided voters are factored in, 63% will vote against the bid.

Fidesz supporters are the only ones who are still supportive of the Olympic bid, with 62% responding that would cast a ballot in favour of hosting the Summer Games. In contrast, 58% of DK supporters oppose the bid and will vote, while this proportion among Socialists stands at 40%, with 15% still undecided. Fully 45% of Jobbik voters also oppose the bid and 7% remain undecided.

Based on where things currently stand, if Momentum manages to obtain at least 138,000 valid signatures next week, Budapest residents will likely vote against the Budapest 2024 bid in a June referendum, forcing the Fidesz-dominated Budapest City Council to withdraw the bid. This would leave only Paris and Los Angeles in the running, and it would be a major political blow to Fidesz less than a year before national elections.

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