As the first president of post-Communist Hungary was buried in a private ceremony, but in the presence of a large crowd on Friday, commentators offer conflicting interpretations of such an unusual procedure. They basically agree that although Göncz was a hero of the Left, his funeral carried a message of moderation.
On HVG online, András Hont suggests that the funeral reflected “the failure of our past 25 years.” Nothing would have been more natural in fact, he argues, than to lay the first President of democratic Hungary to rest in a solemn and official ceremony. But since he believes the current political system is no longer the one presided over by Göncz during his 10 years in office from 1990 to 2000, he feels the choice of a private ceremony was fully justified.
Despite the private character of the ceremony requested by Árpád Göncz himself, several notable figures were seated near the grave, including President János Áder. Prime Minister Orbán also attended, but as a private citizen. Later on the same day, he praised Árpád Göncz for what he had done for Hungary.
In Magyar Idők, János Csontos
On his Internet page, Péter Béndek the founder of a small Conservative party, bids farewell to a man he calls ‘the last hero of the left’. He remarks that even after his death, Árpád Göncz could mobilise more people that any left-wing politician among the living. He was one of the few who consistently stood on the right side throughout Hungary’s tormented 20th century history and opposed consecutive dictatorial regimes, whether right-wing or left-wing. As President of the Republic, Göncz stood far above the liberal and right-wing politicians who agreed to elect him in 1990, Béndek suggests.
Népszabadság devotes its full front page to the funeral with an editorial under a large picture of the coffin, praising the largely anti-government crowd for not using the event to express their anti-government feelings. Many of them must be critical of the whole parliamentary elite and must have interpreted the private character of the funeral as expressing the rejection of the current political setup. Many must have been eager to express their anger with those in power, but managed to heed the message of gentleness required by the occasion, and keep their anger to themselves. “Because rather than what divides us, his funeral represented what unites us,” Népszabadság concludes.