Momentum is a party made up of young and old Hungarians of all walks of life, linked by a mutual sense of responsibility and a desire to act for the betterment of our country. We believe that if we are to build a truly successful Hungary, we have to look past the left-right political divide, put aside ideological differences, and build bridges so we can work together for a common future. We founded Momentum because we believe that we have to do something about the current political situation in Hungary. Our leaders mismanage our already limited resources: corruption, the institutionalized role of oligarchs, lack of democratic decision making, and the state capture of formerly independent institutions are all a drain on Hungary’s economic and political development.
As members of the new political generation and the new wave of pro-European political actors in the region founded a community that would represent our interests and offer a viable alternative to the current Hungarian political elite. We hope to make Hungary a modern, livable European country: a country where everyone has an equal opportunity to learn, to work, to start a business, and to find a role for themselves regardless of their background. Ultimately, we aim to build a country where we can be proud of not only our past but also of our present and future.
What We’ve Done So Far
The NOlimpia Campaign
Momentum burst on the political scene when we started collecting signatures for a referendum on Hungary’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in Budapest.
We believe that in a democracy, such decisions have to be made with the consultation and consent of the people. The decision to bid for the Olympics was made without consulting Hungarians, and even worse, it would not have been in their interest.
In a country where a large portion of the population lives in poverty, hospitals often don’t have disinfectant, and schools can’t afford chalk, such extravagant spending on a sporting event is highly irresponsible. Public construction projects of this type are also a hotbed of corruption, and government friendly contractors would no doubt have found a way to swell the budget to double or triple the original price, all to line their own pockets.
In thirty days, we were able to collect over 266,000 signatures on the streets in order to bring the question to the people. After we submitted the collected signatures, the government decided to withdraw its bid rather than face what would likely have been a losing referendum.
A Tour of the Country
After the success of the NOlimpia campaign, we began a national tour of Hungary to collect the problems faced by Hungarians on a day-to-day basis. Our principal aim was to begin a dialogue with Hungarian citizens about the local issues they found important in their own regions. Our forums drew hundreds daily, and by the end of the campaign, we founded more than fifty regional organizations to work on addressing the issues brought to us by locals.
Forming the Party
After the successes of the NOlimpia campaign and the positive response to our national roadshow, we realized that many people were just as tired of the current state of affairs as we were, but had no viable alternative to look to. This led to our reimagining what initially started as a social movement against one government project as a wider political movement, one that could tackle the other serious problems in our country. After a period of consolidation and the formalization of our organizational structure, we registered as a political party. Today, we have more than 1,200 members, with hundreds more waiting to join, as well as over one hundred local organizations throughout Hungary and across Europe.
In April, our local organizations worked to “correct” the government’s propaganda posters across Hungary. In over 30 townships, our activists changed the text of the government’s anti-EU posters from “Let’s Stop Brussels” to “Let’s Stop Orban” and “Let’s Stop Moscow”. The changes reflect our positions that among the greatest threats to Hungary’s future today are the autocratic decision making of the political elite and the growing Russian influence in the county.
After our anti-propaganda efforts, we launched a nationwide poster campaign that urged our fellow Hungarians to “Kickstart Hungary”, in contrast with the government’s admonishments to “stop Brussels”. We believe that instead of stopping Brussels, we must kickstart Hungary, so we can catch up to our neighbors and provide a basic, European quality of life for all.
Taking A Stand for Tolerance
In June, we were the first political party to openly take a stand for civil rights and tolerance during the 22nd Budapest Pride march. Our activists volunteered to act as security and coordinators for the march, and as a party, we were formally represented by our five-member Presidential Board, as well as by the many members who chose to take part in the event.
Circles of Activism
During our National Roadshow, we experienced first hand how the Hungarian government is leaving Hungarians by the roadside and ignoring their problems. We believe that it is necessary to reimagine the relationship between the state, civil society, and citizens, and our Circles of Action are our attempt to do just that.
By developing a platform where communities can ask for aid, we hope to bring together problems and problem solvers across the country. Anyone can submit an issue or problem that needs to be addressed to the online platform, and anyone can offer aid in the form of assistance, advice, or monetary support.
Russia has a troubling amount of influence in Hungary, while recent attacks against the opposition, civil society, the free press, and socially marginalized groups bear many similarities to tactics utilized by Putin. If these trends continue, it is likely that Hungary’s future will look more and more like Russia’s present, a process Momentum is dedicated to reversing.
On May 1st, the 13th anniversary of Hungary’s successful referendum to join the EU, we held a demonstration to show our commitment to Europe and the values it represents. More than ten thousand Hungarians marched with us from the city center to Heroes’ Square to show that they reject Orban’s ties to Putin, and to demonstrate that Hungary belongs to Europe.
We subsequently expanded this idea into an ongoing multiphase political communication campaign. The first stage explored Momentum’s prospects for and connections to Europe through a media campaign, while the second stage ended mass demonstration at the base of the Statue of Liberty on Budapest’s Gellert Hill. The third stage, which we launched at the beginning of September, focuses on our concrete policy proposals on how to achieve better and more equitable Hungarian-European integration. As part of this phase, our policy experts have written a white paper on the ideal process for Hungary to join the eurozone, which we presented in mid-September.
International and Regional Cooperation
We believe that a strong Hungary means being equal partners in a reinvigorated European Union. Along with EU integration,we also emphasize cooperation with like-minded regional and international partners. In this spirit, we have reached out to similar parties in the region, including Nowoczesna in Poland, USR in Romania, NEOS in Austria, and Progressive Slovakia in Slovakia, among others.
One of our principal aims is to reimagine, reform and reintegrate the Visegrád Group alliance into the European Union of the 21st century. Along with working on a common European agenda and for increased cooperation in Central Eastern Europe, we strive for more inclusive relationships with our close neighbors beyond the V4, such as Romania. Building upon our commitment to European values and with an emphasis on local engagement, our New Central Europe initiative works to counter the forces of populism, illiberalism, and authoritarianism in the region.
In a globalized world and as a member of the European community of states, Hungary needs friends and allies who are also invested in its success. To foster better relations across Europe, we have made overtures to other parties and political actors on the continent and beyond. We are currently organizing delegations for visits to current and potential partners throughout the fall, including to Paris, Brussels, London, and the Hague. In November, we visited New York and Washington to meet members of the Hungarian diaspora and other interested stakeholders.
Plans for the Future
2018 is a national election year in Hungary, and we are currently working full time to prepare our campaign. We are continuing to expand nationally and internationally, and our goal is to found ever more active organizations that will work to better their communities. In the election, we are running candidates in all 106 electoral districts.
We aim to deconstruct Viktor Orban’s regime of fear and intimidation, brick by brick. The Olympic referendum was the first brick, and we will continue to work to knock down the remaining structure and build a stable, democratic Hungary that all will be proud to call their home.