Momentum’s anti-Olympics drive is already a success

A day after I wrote a post on the anti-Olympics drive there was an encounter at one of the collecting stations which, to my mind, starkly illustrates the attitudinal differences between those young people who established a new political movement called Momentum and the older generation of MSZP politicians.

Tibor Szanyi, an MSZP member of the European Parliament, decided to reap some political benefit by appearing on a news clip as he is signing the referendum petition. Apparently, he informed the Momentum activists of his intentions. When he showed up, cameraman and all, András Fekete-Győr, the president of Momentum, appeared and gave Szanyi a piece of his mind about the do-nothing attitude of Szanyi’s party. Party politicians come here for a media opportunity instead of going out and helping to collect signatures. Szanyi was visibly embarrassed and acted like a little boy who had just been scolded by his father. Once he had recovered from the shock, however, he decided to strike back. In a totally unnecessary retort Szanyi went so far as to compare the leaders of Momentum to Fidesz in their “manipulation of the news.” And he called them “asphalt hamsters,” whatever this term means. Not the best beginning for cooperation between professional politicians and the civil activists. I share Fekete-Győr’s anger when I see MSZP’s total inability (and unwillingness) to engage the population on any level save through TV and radio interviews.

Momentum activists are conducting a campaign that so far has been very successful, especially if one compares it to earlier abortive attempts by parties and individuals. In less than two weeks the Momentum activists, with the help of LMP, collected over 80,000 of the requisite 138,000 signatures. Yesterday László Sólyom, the former president of the country, signed the petition, as was reported by some readers of Index who spotted him.

Source: Pesti Srácok / Photo Péter Gyula Horváth

The conservative József Eötvös Group organized a discussion on the economic effects of holding the 2024 Olympics in Hungary. The main speaker was a “sport economist” who is in favor of the project, yet even he had to admit that if the Olympic Games were held in Budapest, they most likely would not be profitable. In fact, from his speech it became clear that the estimates of PricewaterhouseCoopers are unrealistic because the figures they presented cover only the “organizational costs.” The cost of the actual investments, like buildings, the Olympic village, stadiums, and infrastructure, are not included in the overall cost because, the eager organizers claim, these investment projects would have had to be built anyway and, in any case, they were already included in future plans.

So far Viktor Orbán is putting on a good face about Momentum’s NOlimpia drive. Only yesterday ATV learned from Fidesz sources that he believes that, even if there is a referendum, supporters of the Games will be in the great majority. As one self-assured Fidesz leader told ATV, “for the time being we are just sitting and smiling. We are not afraid.”

Well, perhaps Fidesz leaders spoke too early because today a new Medián poll was released. It shows that Fidesz’s assumptions about a pro-Olympic public in Budapest are based on faulty data. This is what happens when polling questions are being manipulated to achieve the desired results. While all the earlier polls showed little support for the Games, the one conducted by a pro-Olympic group found overwhelming support for holding the Olympics in Hungary.

Yes, there is every reason to believe that if a referendum were held, the anti-Olympics folks would be in the majority. According to Medián, 68% of the people don’t support holding the games in Budapest because it would cost too much and the money should be used for “more useful” things. Only 26% think that, “regardless of the cost,” the Olympic Games would strengthen “the bond that connects members of the nation and national pride.” Nine percent of those polled had already signed the petition, and 33% said they are planning to do so even if the number of signatures collected is multiples of those required. Sixty percent of them support the idea of holding a referendum on the question. If a referendum were held today, 54% of the Budapest voters would opt for withdrawing the Hungarian Olympic Committee’s application. Among those who are certain they would vote at such a referendum, the percentage is even higher, 59%.

The same Fidesz informant who told ATV that they were not worried one bit about Momentum’s campaign added that, even if the young activists succeed, there is always the weapon of a government counter-campaign in favor of the games. Of course, this is exactly what would happen. But I’m not at all sure in light of what I am reading about the politics of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) whether it would be worth the effort. I have very little knowledge of the inner workings of the IOC, but according to rumors, the committee “might break with established practice by naming the host-cities of both the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games when it gathers in Peru in September.” The reason for such a decision is that, despite the reforms introduced to lower the cost and make hosting the games more attractive, very few cities have applied, and those which had shown an initial interest later changed their minds, like Rome or, after a referendum, Hamburg. Currently, both Paris and Los Angeles are vying for the 2024 games; in fact, Paris is so adamant that at one point the French sports leaders announced that it is either 2024 or nothing. Perhaps, the officials of IOC figure, they could convince one of the two to accept the later date. In that case, Budapest’s chances are close to nil.

The news of the referendum drive in Budapest certainly reached the headquarters of IOC and may have strengthened their resolve to name the host countries for both the 2024 and 2028 games in September. As a sports reporter for insidethegames.biz writes, such a decision would be wise “since it emerged that Budapest, the outsider in what is currently a three-horse race, would not launch its international promotion campaign at the beginning of this month as planned, due to a resurgence of the referendum calls that seem to have been lingering in the background almost from day one.” The author further speculates that IOC’s decision would be made easier “if a handy referendum put a spanner in Budapest’s works.”

So, even though Fidesz leaders might be smiling and feeling very sure of themselves, the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB) is a great deal more cautious. Moreover, the very fact that an anti-Olympic drive began in Budapest has already damaged Hungary’s chances. Medián’s poll results will not help the Hungarian cause either. If the inhabitants of both Paris and Los Angeles are so gung-ho, the IOC will think twice before awarding the Games to a city where two-thirds of the population don’t want them.

Momentum’s political success is already palpable. That’s why I can’t understand why the two largest opposition parties on the left didn’t rush to support its initiative. NOlimpia is obviously a popular cause and promotes political action. I think that MSZP and DK made a mistake.

February 1, 2017
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Ferenc
Guest

OT
A new list this time about HEALTHCARE added to the V4 infograms.
Independent monitoring of healthcare by Health Consumer Powerhouse Ltd (HCP), the European Commission after assessing various benchmarks has found the EHCI to be the most accurate and reliable comparison.
Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI) from 2008 till 2016.
Results for Hungary:
-clearly downward trend (other V4 mostly upward!)
-position (V4) from 1st (2008) down to almost 4th (2016)
comments about Hungary in report (my summary): not done well in EHCI in recent years, despite having good medical education (!) and tradition of solidarity-financed public healthcare; failed to transform from old mentality into modern world patient-centered healthcare

infogram: https://infogr.am/f0dfa410-d4c6-4544-afd4-72b91f664f13
full report: http://www.healthpowerhouse.com/files/EHCI_2016/EHCI_2016_report.pdf
source: http://www.healthpowerhouse.com
news item (in Hungarian): http://index.hu/gazdasag/2017/01/31/a_valsagban_szethullott_gorog_egeszsegugynel_is_rosszabb_a_magyar/

the best conclusion of all this: there are much more important areas to work on in Hungary than the organizing sport events, so HAJRA NOLIMPIA!!

András B. Göllner
Guest

Bravo to András Fekete Győr, for telling Tibor Szanyi where to get off. If only more Hungarians would tell their politicians, that political capital, public trust, and respect must be earned by hard work, rather than grandstanding. Szanyi should get back to his small business, rather than waste taxpayer’s money on image campaigns that serve no one’s interest but his own.

exTor
Guest
I had a recent discussion with a Brit friend back in Toronto about the Budapest bid. He’s a Francophile. I told him to save his francs because (in my estimation) Paris is the odds-on favorite to get the bid, mostly because of the symbolism of the 100th anniversary of Paris’s last Olympic hosting. Los Angeles had a more recent {1932] hosting, which favors Paris. Budapest is far behind. The Hungarian economy is a major negative, however another bigtime negative is Viktor Orbán himself. I dont think that there is enough of a mention of that factor. Many people just dont like Viktor Orbán, and rightly so. The mere fact that he leads the country now is a putoff for many. Were Hungary to get the nod in September in Lima, Orbán would use that to pump Fidesz for the 2018 election. Then who knows. Orbán might still be in power in 2024. I ended my email to my Brit friend asking him whether Trump will be attending the Los Angeles Olympics in the final year of his second term. BTW, Toronto groups mounted antiOlympic campaigns for the 1996 [Atlanta] and the 2008 [Peking/Beijing] Olympics for the same reason that the… Read more »
KIim Tisdale
Guest

Budapest withdraw 2024 bid
Budapest 2024 Ended

Kim Tisdale
Guest

Los Angeles will big Moment 2024 Olympic Race
Los Angeles will win 2024 bid on September 13, 2017 in Lima, Peru

Kim Tisdale
Guest

Los Angeles and Paris in 2024 Olympic Race Now.

Kim Tisdale
Guest

It will be Two 2024 Candidate Cities are Los Angeles and Paris
#LA2024 #Paris2024

Guest
Accurate take on contemporary Hungary by David Frum in The Atlantic (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/03/how-to-build-an-autocracy/513872/): What has happened in Hungary since 2010 offers an example—and a blueprint for would-be strongmen. Hungary is a member state of the European Union and a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights. It has elections and uncensored internet. Yet Hungary is ceasing to be a free country. The transition has been nonviolent, often not even very dramatic. Opponents of the regime are not murdered or imprisoned, although many are harassed with building inspections and tax audits. If they work for the government, or for a company susceptible to government pressure, they risk their jobs by speaking out. Nonetheless, they are free to emigrate anytime they like. Those with money can even take it with them. Day in and day out, the regime works more through inducements than through intimidation. The courts are packed, and forgiving of the regime’s allies. Friends of the government win state contracts at high prices and borrow on easy terms from the central bank. Those on the inside grow rich by favoritism; those on the outside suffer from the general deterioration of the economy. As one shrewd observer told me on a… Read more »
Melanie Zuben
Guest

“Friends of the government win state contracts at high prices and borrow on easy terms from the central bank.”

With all due respect, to whom should the government give the precious grants to? To their enemies? And you don’t even have to be a “shrewd observer” to come to this logical assessment. I would think that every elected government favors their own supporters first before they accommodate their opposition/enemies.
Let’s say: If you are running a successful business, would you hire the wife of your opposition for your private secretary?

aida
Guest

I thought for a few moments whether MZ’s post deserves a reasoned response? It does not. It is transparent rubbish.

Ferenc
Guest

Sorry Melany, with this you’ll not be entered into the “Joke of the Month” contest (like you succeeded before).
What you write is like aida stated earlier.

pappp
Guest

Privet Tovaris Melanie, Kak dela?

of course the Hungarian government should favor no one in particular.

The government should award contracts to the best, cheapest bidder to save taxpayer money. In other words it should allow fair competition.

What you are advocating is the right of corruption by the ruler just because, I dunno, he is in a position of power to do so.

For your information there are no “opposition” construction firms. So even if Orban wanted to favor an “opposition firm” there would be nobody to award a contract to.

There are no “opposition” companies. There aren’t even openly left-wing or even “opposition” business people.

Everybody, and I repeat to you, everybody who was awarded a contract by the government was a politically vetted crony who always, without fail had to undertake to pay a kick back of a least 30%. but often as high as 50%, and in some extreme cases even more (Roland Mengyi demanded 90%!).

This system is personally managed and overseen by Viktor Orban himself and his family and helpers (Strohmen).

This is Hungary now.

wrfree
Guest

Re’ Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s rule over Hungary does depend on elections. These remain open and more or less free—’

Looks it and makes the place ‘lace curtain’ democratic. On the other hand I’d suggest another rather rationale for the existence of the elites who love to rule in the political limelight.

In very early Jacksonian times there were jokes which made fun of John Quincy Adams. One joke had the friends of Adams described as a Frenchman who bragged that King Louis spoke to him. ‘What did the King say to you?asked an awed friend. ‘He told me to get out of his way, replied the delighted Frenchman.
And I’d think the nation is doing just that leaving VO to paint the country all the way ‘Orban’. It doesn’t help the country to think they exist in the ancien regime. If they don’t stop there will be no help for their aching backs.

And Szanyi. Looks the freeloader in relation to the activists who are plugging all the way.

Kim Tisdale
Guest

Budapest drop out 2024 Olympic Race Now.
IOC will cancel visit to Budapest

Kim Tisdale
Guest

http://www.budapest2024.org/en will be Closed
Budapest 2024 Website will be No Longer

Reality Check
Guest
It is reasonable to assume Budapest started in third place in a contest with LA and Paris. Since joining the final three, Hungary has slipped in both economic competitiveness and the perception of corruption has grown. The M4 is tied-up in a scandal that casts further doubt on Fidesz. The M2 continues to spark and smoke with no clear timetable for repair. The Hungarian government’s treatment of refugees raises serious humanitarian concerns. The healthcare system, which would have to dedicate resources to the event, is already under serious strain. The shortage of emergency physicians is acute. Even if the referendum never goes to a vote (because of some quasi-legal maneuvering) the message will be clear – the people of Budapest do not want it. It is hard to imagine the committee looking at these and other negatives, and deciding Budapest is a good bet. This will likely be the second serious referendum related blow to Fidesz within a year. It may not cost them the majority in 2018, but it can only give the opposition a better chance and may motivate the majority of the public who do not support Fidesz to act. And it sure is fun watching them… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@ Reality Check

Once Putin sends his entourage with a few bags of coin of the realm, the question of choice becomes academic. Witness the process of choosing the FIFA World Cup sights for 2018 and 2022 done back in 2010. Instructive. (Prior to the final selection, Putin said that he wouldn’t go because he thought that Russia had ‘no chance’. Of course, Roman Abramovich showed up with an entourage. Result? Russia won hands down for 2018, and Qatar defeated the USA for 2022. Now there’s mother Russia at her very best…)

Guest

The good times in sports for Russia are over – haven’t you read that again several medals were taken away from Russian sportspeople because of doping – going back even to 2012?

Russian sports has lost all credibility!

So I think that leaning on Russia too much is a bad idea – everybody else will look strangely at O and even if he doesn’t care people outside the Russian sphere of influence will react.

Ferenc
Guest

Just let O ask P to strongly support the Bp 2024/28 Olympic!
(than it surely will go to others……….)

Istvan
Guest

Assuming that Momentum actually stops a Budapest Olympics I suspect Budapest is already out millions upon millions of forints. Here is a short article about the costs of my home City’s failing bid in 2009 for the 2016 Olympics http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-olympics-chicago-2016-met-20160715-story.html Just to be at the stage in the process Budapest is at now costs a vast amount of money.

Now the loss for Chicago is in the several hundred million dollar range, if we had won the bid the loss would be far worse today. Like Budapest Chicago has its political hustlers who invested around an assumption of winning the Olympic bid and lost everything, the Tribune article I linked does not mention one political figure who shot himself after the bid was lost and was found floating in the Chicago River, or was he shot for borrowing money from the wrong people for investments gone bad? No doubt there are already Fidesz oligarchs trying to get the inside track on making money on the Olympics and they too may end up in the river if things go bad, but it will be the Danube.

bimbi
Guest

Istvan @ 12:58 a.m.

C’mon Istvan. There is plenty of cream in the preparations for the 2024 Olympics bid and then in the bid itself. There is also political capital for Orban in his “Making Hungary Great Again” Olympic b-s. So the financial rip-off for Fidesz as well as the electioneering for 2018 are going on here and now.

Of course, were the Olympic bid successful, then the current rip-off would become a massive flood with future governments left to pay off Orban’s debt – like the pension theft (but much worse). It is called “Money in the Bank” – but we won’t tell you which bank…

Istvan
Guest

I think that is similar to what I wrote bimbi, but I do believe there will be losers among the corrupt hustlers if the Budapest bid fails. The most extreme example of this corruption was Sochi Games, the price tag for the Sochi Games was higher than that of all other winter Olympics to date combined. Moreover, a third or more of that sum was lost to rampant corruption, embezzlement and kickbacks. All costs were absorbed by the Russian Federation and the corrupt got their money.

That is a high bar for Orban and Fidesz to exceed. But if the bid fails individuals in Hungary who have schemed to make money will likely not be made whole by Fidesz except with informal promises of future kickbacks that may or may not be fulfilled. Lajos Simicska can explain how Orban can screw the faithful, in his case he had already stolen enough to remain whole. Putin would have had Simicska shot for his mouth, in Chicago you end up in the river as a police certified sucide.

Guest
bimbi
Guest

Ambalint @ 2:06 a.m.

Ah yes, the Putin visit. Why does Mr. Orban need to talk to Mr. Putin? Well, first of all on the 2024 Olympic bid, Putin knows how to handle such things – before, during and after the event. So Viktor will get a briefing from an expert. As regards ensuring Hungarian “Olympic Success” Mr. P. reigned over the most massive fraud in sporting history with his industrial-scale drug dispensation programme at Sochi (but didn’t the Ruskies do well?) and elsewhere – thousands of drugged athletes under Putin’s direct supervision. Hey, bringing in a little chemistry for the Magyarok shouldn’t be a problem after that. Reportedly Mr. P. has expertise in other areas of chemistry such as Polonium toxicity. The man is an expert.

pappp
Guest
Just a quick remark. The sport economist – an otherwise nice enough fellow – at the Eötvös-group talk had three presuppositions which he assumes to be true when defending the Olympics. (Even assuming these to be true he thinks the project would be loss making but in his judgment that financial loss would still be worth it.) A) That neoclassical economic theory is true, (B) that the PWC study (paid for by the government from taxpayer money) is true and – get this – that (C) there will be no corruption. Yes, that’s one of his basic assumptions. I just don’t understand why anybody would have to pretend something, especially (C) but also (B) (it’s clear PWC clearly produced a study which supports the candidacy) when we all know that there is corruption. Indeed the single biggest motivation of the Olympics is exactly to steal unlimited amounts of money. Only from giant projects can politicians steal giant amounts, one can’t steal if the government increases pensions or cuts taxes. One of the interesting takeaways was that there were quite a number of young audience members who fervently defended the Olympics, and berated others for being petty, not wanting big things… Read more »
pappp
Guest
DK and MSZP are full of the usual wavering leftists. They put way too much faith in polls (despite knowing that polls aren’t as reliable as pollsters want us to believe) which seemed to suggest that rural and poorer people overwhelmingly support the Olympics. But this isn’t so simple because if the question is only the Olympics the easy answer is yes. It’s like asking whether you want a Ferrari or not? If however you add a little but more info like even if it meant spending less on health care or raising taxes (which is obvious since the Olympics would be financed from debt) the yes answer isn’t so obvious at all. It’s like adding you would be leasing the Ferrari from risky FX loans. Many would decline. But the fundamental problem of the left-wing is that they cannot take a firm stand. On any issue. That in an era when people want, demand “deciders” and tough leaders. It’s not even the nature of the matter on which they should take a stand which counts, but the perception that these leftists lack principles and cannot make a firm decision. People forgive a different from the majority opinion but they… Read more »
bimbi
Guest

Stay Strong MOMENTUM. No Olympics, No, No, No NOLYMPICS.
Together we can do it.

aida
Guest

There are two serious contenders, Budapest is not one of them for all sorts of reasons. I congratulate Momentum on their efforts to demonstrate that the Hungarian public agrees with that view.
I have an overarching reservation because I believe that international sport has reached a point in promoting corruption and in undermining sports like values that any attempt to discredit the organisations that promote international sport is wholly welcome.
International sport is similar to Trump, it is made up to look positive and respectable but in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

Guest

The big crooks are where the big money is. Also in sports.

Matt_L
Guest
Gads. MSZP and DK are a just a big bag of wiggly worms. The can get anything right and just flop around in the same place. That is too bad because I really like the old left, but these guys have lost any sort of belief in principles or even in their own ability to rule. I used to blame the failures of MSZP on the particularities of Hungarian politics, but now I think its just part of a global trend. The old socialist parties of Germany and France are sclerotic and headed for a serious thrashing this year. The Democratic Party not only lost the 2016 Presidential elections, but has also been faltering in the more important state elections for a decade. Let’s not even get into the problems with the British Labor Party. If I were more of a pessimist or conservative I would say that the old left is decadent, exhausted, and out of ideas. But in fact, the things that they stood for in the past are still important today. We need labor unions to improve peoples wages and pensions, the parties of the left had helped with this in the past. We need vigilance over… Read more »
Matt_L
Guest

Arg, The first paragraph should say:
“Gads. MSZP and DK are a just a big bag of wiggly worms. They can’t get anything right and just flop around in the same place. That is too bad because I really like the old left, but these guys have lost any sort of belief in principles or even in their own ability to rule. “

Guest

You’re absolutely right – much of the “elan” of the Socialists has been taken over by the Greens e g.
But it’s also a question of personalities – in Germany we have high hopes on Martin Schulz who left EU politics for national politics. He was the focal point/arch enemy of the right wingers in Fidesz etc – let’s hope that he can revitalise the German left at last!

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