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A liberal view of Budapest’s failed Olympic bid

March 6th, 2017
Magyar Narancs celebrates the withdrawal of Budapest’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games as a third victory over Viktor Orbán and his government within a year.

In their weekly lead column, the editors of Magyar Narancs write that the Prime Minister has lost three referenda within one single year, despite being the unchallenged leader of a party that is widely recognised as the strongest in Hungary. (Fidesz supporters outnumber the potential voters of the MSZP and Jobbik combined.) They take it for granted that the referendum on the Olympics will be deemed pointless by the courts and thus note that in two of the three cases they mention, the Prime Minister ‘didn’t even dare’ to face a referendum. The first referendum would have decided whether to keep the Sunday shop closures in force, but before it was due, the law was revoked by Parliament (see BudaPost, April 16, 2016). The second one was held on compulsory migrant relocation quotas and although the 41 per cent turnout was below the legal quorum, over 98 per cent of those who did take part voted against the quotas, at the exhortation the government. The editors describe that outcome as a failure, followed by the successful initiative to hold a referendum on the Olympic bid which was strongly promoted by the Prime Minister himself. The governing forces reacted by withdrawing the Olympic bid and the Prime Minister commented that “a dream was killed”. The authors respond that rather than a dream it was a nightmare because of the uncontrolled spending they believe it would have entailed. As they see it, the Prime Minister will now concentrate his efforts on managing that defeat.

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