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Local Referendum on Budapest’s Party District to Be Held in February

Budapest’s 7th district is to hold a local referendum on the opening hours of pubs and other venues on February 18.

The referendum question refers specifically to the inner part of the downtown district, from Karoly korut to Erzsebet korut, also known as the “party district”, although all residents of the district are eligible to take part. Citizens can vote on whether the pubs and clubs in this area should close between midnight and 6 am. The measure would impact around 400-500 venues, including many of the city’s popular “ruin pubs”. Obviously, if the city council decides to enforce these restrictions, it would spell the end of the district and perhaps -at least for some time- Budapest as a cheap party destination.

The noise and behaviour of party-goers, rubbish and the extended opening hours have been a subject of a long-standing feud between residents, apartment leasers and club owners. Peaceful demonstrations were held over the summer and negotiations started. Some minor changes were undertaken, and police presence was increased, but no final decisions were made.

Zsolt Vattamany, the district’s mayor, said that the referendum comes after the district government failed to reach a decision on the matter. He said that the local government is not campaigning for either solution. However, he will invite and encourage officially everyone to take part in the vote. LMP was the loudest on the closure, while there was no consensus even within Fidesz. This indecisiveness will be probably seen in the results as well, as the party district generated income not only for the district and the city, but for many permanent residents as well. Turnout is also a question 2 months before the general elections. It is important to note that the referendum is not binding for the district government: it will be still up to the district’s council members to decide upon any potential restrictions.

via hirado.hu, dailynewshungary.com, index.hu