RIP Árpád Göncz

Hungary’s ex-president Árpád Göncz passed away. What was his role in Hungarian history? Read few comments.

István Hegedűs, Charmain, Hungarian Europe Society

Árpád Göncz was an outstanding Hungarian public intellectual and politician. The Hungarian people called him Árpi bácsi (uncle) because of his casual and friendly style during his two periods in office as President of the Republic from 1990 to 2000. He had been imprisoned after the 56 revolution and was able to embody the spirit of the uprising against Stalinist communism after the regime-change in 1989-90. Moreover, his political stance represented a liberal anti-communism in an era of nostalgia towards “gulyáskommunizmus” of the Kádár-era in the seventies on the left side, and a radical “anti-bolshevism” on the right side of the political spectrum. His death is also the symbol of the evaporation of the moderate political centre in current Hungary.

András Bíró-NagyCo-director, Head of Research, Policy Solutions

Former president Árpád Göncz was one of the most important politicians of the first decade after the change of regime, and played a key role in the peaceful transition to democracy. He firmly believed in freedom and democracy, and that his country’s place is in the European Union. His personal history provided the credibility to all the values he stood for as president. As the most popular politician in Hungary since 1990, Árpád Göncz will be remembered by most Hungarians because of a political style and human quality that no longer can be found in Hungarian politics.

Martin Brusis, Wissenschaftlicher Geschäftsführer des Kompetenznetzes „Institutionen und Institutionenwandel im Postsozialismus“, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Despite his limited constitutional powers as a president, Arpad Göncz effectively and responsibly constrained the discretion of the executive during the formative years of Hungary’s democracy. He contributed to revise major laws of the political transition – on restitution, public media and decommunization – and to ensure their compatibility with the constitution and a liberal model of democracy. He is also a symbol for the reconciliation and integration of Hungarian society, that is, for overcoming the deep divides that originate from the 1956 revolution and the népi-urbánus controversy of the interwar period.

 

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