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Momentum lacking in anti-Olympics signature drive

With a shortage of activists and no database, the "NOlimpia" petition by youth movement Momentum Mozgalom to force a Budapest referendum opposing the plan for the city to host the 2024 Summer Olympics appears to be floundering with little more than a week left to collect signatures, according to a report by online news portal index.hu today.

Although left-wing opposition parties have openly supported the referendum initiative, index.hu notes that the smaller parties are unable to say for the moment how many signatures they can deliver.

Momentum requested the opposition Socialists (MSZP) and Democratic Coalition (DK) to stay away from directly supporting the campaign, presumably in light of the movementʼs broader political aspirations, confirmed this morning with its formal announcement on the ATV channel that it will transform into a political party following the referendum drive, with a view to running in the 2018 parliamentary elections.

"We are ready to cooperate on various issues with any party, just as in the NOlimpia campaign, but it is certain that we have no intention of forming any more concrete political alliance than this. We wish to run independently," said Anna Orosz, a leading representative of the organization, on ATVʼs morning show.

Momentum Mozgalom has a little more than a week to finish collecting and to submit the 138,000 valid signatures it needs to amass within 30 days from the start of the referendum drive on January 19. The latest count today reveals that more than 100,000 names have been gathered so far at Momentum booths set up in public spaces. If the signatures promised by smaller parties are added to this, then the drive may currently stand at around 120-130,000 signatures, Momentum President András Fekete-Győr told index.hu.

Index.hu reports that although Momentum activists have enthusiastically braved freezing temperatures to stand outside for hours at major thoroughfares in the city, the second half of the campaign has seen few people standing in line to sign. As the online portal puts it, whoever really wants to sign has done so already.

At the same time, door-to-door canvassing of signatures is hampered by a shortage of willing activists, as well as by a lack of address lists or a database of left-wing voters who might prove the most likely potential supporters of the initiative. Index.hu observes that both the MSZP and DK might hold such lists (although officially all parties deny their existence), but added that while they may support the anti-Olympics initiative, they would hesitate to provide such lists to a potential future election rival.