Curia rejects Budapest referendums on developing City Park, hosting 2024 Olympics

January 21, 2016

referendum

Hungary’s highest court, the Curia, has ruled that public referendums may not be held on whether Hungary should apply to host the Olympic Games in 2024 and whether construction of new museums may take place within Budapest’s oldest and largest park, the Városliget,

In December the Budapest election committee approved the following two questions:

  1. Would you agree that the building regulations pertaining to the city park should not allow the construction of new museums in the city park?
  2. Do you agree that the Budapest city government should not apply to host the 2024 summer Olympic Games and paralympics?

On the first question, which was initiated by Budapest 14th District (Zugló) mayor Gergely Karácsony (Dialogue for Hungary), the Curia ruled that a referendum was not sufficient to invalidate the law on the City Park Renovation and Development which came into force on 24 December 2013.

On the second question, which was initiated by online investigative journalism website Átlátszó’s Katalin Erdélyi, the court ruled that because the referendum could only be held after the February 17, 2016 deadline for submitting the first part of the application, about which the Budapest city council had already decided, the question misleadingly implied that the application had yet to take place.

At a joint press conference in front of the Curia Wednesday afternoon, Karácsony and Erdélyi criticized the court’s decision and vowed to fight on.

Karácsony pointed out that while the 2013 law permits development within the City Park, it does not pertain to the applicable city and district building codes.

Erdélyi said it was “unequivocal” that the Curia had made a political decision with regard to hosting the 2024 Olympics.  The investigative journalist believes that had the referendum asked whether the City should withdraw the application, “it would have been rejected by referring to the fact that the City had yet to make an application”.