- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
After doing their best last week to convince the world that their economy was on the brink of a Greece-style crash, sending their own currency as well as the euro into a tailspin, the ruling Fidesz party is now awkwardly trying to repair the damage:
"It is blatant that Hungary is not Greece," said Mihaly Varga, chief of staff to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in a television interview on Monday. "Greece has 230 billion euros ($274.8 billion) worth of public debt, and in the case of Hungary, we’ve got only … €76 billion public debt. So Hungary is not Greece."[…]
Varga was also quoted on Saturday as saying comparisons to countries such as Greece were "unfortunate."
To be clear, those comparisons were made by the chairman of Varga’s party and then reaffirmed by his boss’s chief spokesman.
The conventional wisdom on the Hungarian government’s strange behavior over the last week now seems to be that they were trying to make the situation sound more dire than it really is in order to deflect blame for the fact that they won’t be able to deliver on the promises of tax cuts and stimulus that got them elected.
FT’s Lex calls it a "boneheaded exercise in expectations management," which sounds about right. It hasn’t been a stellar debut for Hungary’s Fidesz government. Not that the Socialists were any more honest, but at least when they lied, it sort of worked.