For most European governments, the stigma attached to being on the Brussels dole may no longer be what it once was, what with the queue now reaching from Athens to Dublin to Lisbon. But for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose government has now formally requested EU-IMF lending, the embarrassment is likely to be intense.
Mr. Orban’s relationship with Brussels and the Fund has been fraught. After his center-right Fidesz party took office last year, he very publicly terminated a 2008 emergency lending arrangement in order to “regain Hungary’s lost economic sovereignty.” By walking away from the €20 billion in remaining rescue funds, Mr. Orban declared that he could pursue a “patriotic economic policy” free of external meddling. Hungarians cheered.
A Populist’s Lament – Viktor Orban has made Hungary a ripe target for doubters