National Elections Office says no to referendum on hosting 2024 Olympic Games

October 7, 2016

Referendum

The National Elections Office (NVI) ruled Wednesday in a 9-2 decision that a referendum cannot be held on Budapest’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, 444.hu reports.

Katalin Erdélyi, a journalist for investigative journalism site Átlátszó, submitted an initiative in early September to the National Elections Committee (NVB) for the government to conduct a referendum on whether the Hungarian people wanted the Olympic Games to be held in Budapest. The question she proposed to ask the Hungarian people was:

Do you agree that the National Assembly should repeal the 2016 LVIII. law to bid for and host the XXXIII. Summer Olympic and XVII. Summer Paralympic Games?

The NVI rejected the initiative on the grounds that the question wasn’t clear and would give people the impression that they were deciding on whether or not Budapest should host the 2024 Olympics Games, but the vote would only have affected a law, without which the Olympics could still be held.

The NVI added that organizations already founded based on the law would be affected by its repeal, and that the constitution prohibits referendums being held concerning personnel or organizational structuring that are within the competence of the National Assembly.

Erdélyi had submitted another initiative in December 2015 to the Budapest Election Committee, asking “Do you agree that the Budapest city government should not apply to host the 2024 summer Olympic Games and Paralympics?” That proposal was approved by the Budapest Election Committee but later overturned by the Curia, Hungary’s highest court.

Another referendum request was submitted to the NVB by Dialogue for Hungary (PM) earlier this year, but was rejected out of hand. That would have asked Hungarians whether they wanted Budapest to host the Olympic Games at all, a question largely answered by a Publicis poll conducted in August which showed half of Hungarians didn’t support the plan, and 75 percent thought it would cost way too much money.

This data didn’t stop Prime Minister Viktor Orbán from traveling to Rio de Janeiro for this year’s Summer Olympics with the claim that all of Hungary supports the government’s plans to host the games in Budapest in 2024.

The NVI’s rejection of numerous initiatives comes as little surprise. It has proven reluctant to validate questions submitted by opposition politicians, even as it rushed to validate the government’s referendum question on EU resettlement quotas despite legal experts pointing out that (1) the question made no sense, and (2) by law obligations arising from international agreements cannot be the subject of referendums.