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Further ruminations on the withdrawn Olympic bid

February 25th, 2017

Two conservative columnists regret that there will be no referendum on the Olympic application. A third conservative pundit thinks that the bid fell prey to party politics.

In Heti Válasz, Szilárd Szőnyi finds it sad that there was no referendum on the Budapest Olympic Games application. The conservative columnist recalls that the bid was originally supported by most parties in Parliament as well as different civil organizations. In addition, different polls suggested that until very recently, the Hungarian public was also in favour of the idea. Szőnyi speculates that the unexpected success of the call for a referendum is an indication that despite its lead in the polls, many Hungarians are dissatisfied with the government. Szőnyi adds that the crude statements of some pro-government pundits may have fuelled anti-government sentiments. In a televised talk show and in his blog, Magyar Demokrata editor-in-chief András Bencsik labelled supporters of the referendum ‘traitors’.

Mandiner’s Gellért Rajcsányi also regrets that there was no referendum. The centrist conservative blogger thinks that the referendum would have been helpful in finding out whether the Hungarian public really considers the Olympic bid as an important national project or not. In the absence of a proper public debate and a vote, both sides will use the withdrawn bid to vilify each other, Rajcsányi fears. The governing party will claim that the Olympic application was attacked by politically motivated activists who may even have been financed by foreign actors, including George Soros. The Left, on the other hand, will use the opportunity to accuse the government of corruption, Rajcsányi concludes.

In Magyar Nemzet, Szabolcs Szerető contends that the Olympic bid fell prey to party politics. The left-wing parties which initially supported it made a U-turn and started to oppose the Olympic application as soon as they saw this was politically salient strategy to criticize the government. The Right, on the other hand, withdrew the application, which, according to Szerető, suggests that they were also more concerned about its political implications.

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