Anti-Olympic campaign gathers twice as many signatures as needed

Parliament

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Youth movement Momentum Mozgalom has collected more than 266,000 signatures, almost twice as many as it needed to call for a referendum in Budapest on the capital’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, according to reports. In response, Budapest Mayor István Tarlós has hinted he might “seriously” think about withdrawing the city’s application.

Having been joined by many opposition parties, Momentum Mozgalom, which says it is planning to form a political party in time for the 2018 elections, was able to collect 266,151 signatures, almost twice as many as the 138,526+1 minimum.

Although there might be invalid signatures among the signatures, it is almost certain now that Momentum has been able to collect enough valid signatures to move forward.

The election office of the capital has 45 days to double-check the signatures. Due to loose deadlines in the Hungarian system, local online news portal index.hu says it is possible that the referendum will be called this summer but, equally, it is also possible it might be called only after the International Olympic Committee makes a decision about the 2024 bid winner on September 13.

At the same time, speculation has already emerged in the Hungarian media, citing unnamed Fidesz sources, that governing party Fidesz may be prepared to step back from the bid.

Such speculation apparently received further support today through comments from Budapest Mayor István Tarlós. If a referendum were “actually held” or enough signatures have been collected for one to be held, Tarlós said he might think about pulling out of the Olympics bid.

Giving one of his regular press conferences today, the mayor clarified for index.hu that sufficient official signatures have been collected that he “has seriously thought about the issue,” and he can imagine a scenario where he would suggest to the General Assembly of Budapest that the city withdraw.

However, Tarlós also complained that the signatures should have been collected much earlier. He noted, according to index.hu, that a few years earlier the entire political scene supported the idea of Budapest organizing the Olympics, but in the meantime opposition parties have withdrawn their support. Tarlós described this as a “betrayal,” index.hu reported.

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