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Hungary’s New Leader Inaugurated

August 4, 2000

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ Ferenc Madl, a conservative law professor who once taught in California, was inaugurated Friday as Hungary’s second president since the fall of communism.

Madl, elected by parliament in June, succeeded Arpad Goencz, who had served the maximum two terms in the largely ceremonial and post.

Madl was a power broker who helped develop the right-wing coalition that ousted a Socialist-led government in 1998. In his address, he said Hungary needed to take care of the poor and improve educational opportunity.

``There is much to be done,″ he said. ``Everyone should have daily bread, gainful employment, economic advancement, more security.″

Though he has never been a member of a political party, one of his main tasks will be to convince political parties and voters that he is above partisanship.

Some opposition deputies have not forgiven him for calling the previous left-wing government a ``communist coalition″ before the 1998 victory of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Madl was minister of culture and education in the cabinet of Prime Minister Jozsef Antall following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet-backed communist government in 1990. He also headed the government agency charged with selling off state enterprises.

The inauguration ceremony took place in front of the House of Parliament and was attended by mayors, foreign diplomats, and clergy.

The pomp was in contrast to Goencz’s inaugurations, which consisted of a simple ceremony in parliament.

``This is so wonderful, it’s almost like a coronation,″ said Mrs. Maria Szekelyi, 68, who was among the onlookers.

One of six children in a poor peasant family, Madl worked as a coal miner and iron worker as a young man. He graduated from the law department at Budapest University in 1955 and later taught at foreign universities, including the University of California at Berkeley.

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