Hungary activists form party after anti-Olympic bid campaign

Momentum Movement leaders hope to build on the success of their signature campaign to force a referendum on Budapest's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics to forge a successful political party

A group of young Hungarian activists who forced Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government into a rare retreat announced a new political party Sunday and said they plan to run for parliament next year.

Leaders of the new party, called the Momentum Movement, said it builds on the success of a recent signature drive it organised to demand a referendum be held on Budapest's bid to host the Olympic Games in 2024.

Last month the group of activists, who are mostly in their 20s and 30s, said they collected more than enough signatures to hold the ballot, but the government announced soon after it had withdrawn its backing for the candidacy.

The Momentum Movement plans to run candidates in all of Hungary's 106 constituencies at the next parliamentary election, scheduled to be held in the first half of next year.

While it is yet to set out an election programme, the party's leaders have told local media its policies will include better cooperation with other EU members on migration policy, in contrast to Orban, long known for his go-it-alone approach.

They have also criticised the strongman premier's cosy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The party faces a daunting task in its challenge to Orban however as, according to recent opinion polls, the popularity of his ruling right-wing party Fidesz, in power since 2010, has hardly been dented by its Olympics bid setback.

"Although changing the government in 2018 seems unrealistic to many people, many people also thought that collecting more than 100,000 signatures would be impossible for us," Anna Orosz, a Momentum leader, told local media.

The party has also said it wants to bring an end the squabbling between the left and the right-wing.

"The left-wing and right-wing since the turn of the century have only been capable of dividing the country," reads a post on the party's Facebook page.