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Top court rejects referendum on Budapest’s Olympic bid

January 22nd, 2016


Liberal commentators portray Wednesday’s decision by the Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court to reject a referendum on Budapest’s bid for the 2024 Olympic games, as politically motivated.On 444, Péter Erdélyi ridicules the Kúria’s explanation that the referendum could not be held before Hungary’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games is submitted. He calls this “a scary message from the pinnacle of justice.” Moreover, he argues, the ruling is based on faulty reasoning.  Of the three steps of the bidding process, only the first has to be completed within three weeks. The last is due in February 2017, which provides plenty of time for a referendum. Erdélyi also cites a Dutch research paper which predicts that due to the huge financial losses Olympic Games tend to generate nowadays, in future they may only take place in emerging, non-democratic countries [which simply have the centralized power and money to organize them.] This ruling against the referendum ‘will take Hungary nearer to becoming one of those places,’ he concludes.

On HVG online, Márton Nehéz-Posony describes the Curia’s decision as “strained.” Whether or not the referendum could be organized before the February deadline is totally irrelevant, he asserts, since the results can compel the municipality to withdraw a bid which has already been submitted. The government will undoubtedly be pleased by the decision, he writes. And by rejecting the referendum on both questions (the other question challenged plans to build a new museum quarter in Városliget, Budapest’s most frequented public park), with what he sees as unlawful explanations, the Curia has to a great extent impaired its independent image, the author claims.

A Kúria spokesman told  Klubrádió that a referendum on the planned Budapest Olympics could indeed be held, but the exact question posed was whether the inhabitants of Budapest wanted their city to submit its candidacy. That question must be decided upon before a referendum can be held. As to the planned  City Park (Városliget) project, he said no local referendum can be held on laws passed by the National Parliament. The project is based on a mandate given to the City Council by the legislature.

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