Felipe González Márquez

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Prime Minister of the Spanish government<p>

Tenure December 2, 1982 - May 5, 1996
Preceded by Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo
Succeeded by José María Aznar
Date of birth March 5, 1942
Place of birth Seville
Party Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE)

Felipe González Márquez born March 5, 1942 in Seville became General Secretary of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) from 1974 to 1997 and Prime Minister of the Spanish government from 1982 to 1996.



When he became a student at the University of Seville he was a Christian Democrat militating in 2 Roman Catholic organisations. He joined the PSOE in 1962, an illegal organisation since 1939, where he used the nom de guerre Isidoro. In 1965 he became a part of the PSOE Seville Provincial Committee until 1969. In 1966 he graduated in law before setting up an practice specialising in representing workers in litigation cases. During this time he also taught law at Seville University. In 1969 he married Carmen Romero. He served on their National Committee between 1969 and 1970, when he became a member of the Executive Commission. He was arrested in 1971 for attending protests against Franco. He was elected General Secretary in the Congress of Suresnes (France) of 1974 which represented a victory for the young renovating wing of the party over the traditional veterans. After Franco's death in 1975 González became one of the leaders of the legal democratic opposition as a part of the Platform for Democratic Convergence that in March 1976 became a part of the Democratic Junta of Spain. In February 1977 the PSOE was legalised, and participated in Spain's first post Franco general election on June 15 where they gained 29.2% of the vote and 118 seats, making González leader of the opposition in the Parliament. González wanted to rid the PSOE of its Marxist character in order to convert it into a modern socialist party that appealed to all classes. On May 20, accompanied by Javier Solana, he went to see King Juan Carlos in the Zarzuela Palace. He was named Vice President of the centre left Socialist International on November 7 1978. On March 1 the PSOE consolidated their position as the main opposition party, gaining 30.5% of the vote and 121 seats. González then resigned as Secretary General on May 17 1979 during the XXVII Congress. In September the PSOE called a special XXVIII Congress in which he was re-elected Secretary General by an overwhelming 85.9%.


On October 28 1982 PSOE gained 48.3% of the vote and 202 deputies (of 343). On December 2 he became President, with Alfonso Guerra as his deputy. His election was met with tremendous expectation of change amongst Spaniards. Under his government education was made universal and free until the age of 16, University education was expanded, Social security system began and in the face of opposition from the Roman Catholic Church a partial legalisation of abortion became law for the first time. González pushed for liberal reforms and a restructuring of the economy. On February 23 1983 the Government passed a law nationalising Rumasa, a private business that included merchant banking interests, on the grounds that it was at the point of bankruptcy and the government needed to protect the savings of depositors and the jobs of it's 60,000 employees, a decision that aroused considerable criticism and a judicial conflict over the law that was only resolved, in favour of the government, in December 1986. Having promised in the election to create 800,000 new jobs his government's restructuring of the steel industry actually resulted in job lay offs, especially in the provinces. When they tried to similarly tackle the debt problems in the dock industry in 1984 the dockers went on strike. The Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), or Workers' General Union, called a general strike one on June 20 1985 in protest at social security reforms. The same year his government began a massive partial or full privatisation of the 200 state owned companies, as well as the hundreds of affiliates dependent on these companies.

On June 22, 1986 the PSOE gained 44.1% of the vote and gained 184 depuies. González supported Spain entering NATO that same year in a referendum reversing his and the party's earlier anti NATO position. A general strike on December 14, 1988 completely paralysed the country, and caused the Unions and the PSOE left wing to describe González as moving to the right. Under his mandate, Spain joined the EEC in 1986. He supported the USA in the First Gulf War in 1991.

On October 29 1989 he won a third general election with 39.6% of the vote and 175 seats. On June 6 1993 he won a fourth general election with 38.8% of the vote and 159 deputies, but González was forced to form a pact with small political parties from Catalonia and Basque country in order to form a new government. Towards the end of 1995 there was a debate about whether González should lead PSOE in the forthcoming general elections. He was associated in the public mind with the bad economic situation (with the unemployment rate approaching 25%) and with various corruption and state terrorism scandals, including that of GAL and its fight against ETA. There was talk in the press about Javier Solana (who was the only member of González original cabinet, and as foreign minister was not linked to these scandals), but with Solana's appointment as Secretary General of NATO in December 1995 leaving no other suitable candidate, González remained at the front of the party which then lost the March 3, 1996 general election to the People's Party, gaining 37.4% of the vote and 141 deputies. On May 5 José María Aznar replaced him as President.

Post President

Since September he heads the Madrid-based Global Progress Foundation (FPG). At the beginning of the XXXIV PSOE National Congress on June 20 1997 he made a surprise resignation as leader of the party. He also resigned from the federal executive committee, though retaining his seat in the Congress. With no clear successor he continued to exert an enormous influence over the party until at the XXXV party Congress in July 2001 José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero became leader. In 1999 he was put in charge of the party's Global Progress Commission in response to globalisation. The Commission's report formed the basis of the closing declaration of the XXI Socialist International Congress on November 8-9 1999. He stood down as a deputy in March 2004. One of his hobbies is tending bonsai trees. During his tenure at Moncloa, he received and cultivated several of them, mostly Mediterranean species, that he later donated to the Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid.

Published works

  • "Un discurso ético" (co-authorship with Víctor Márquez Reviriego, 1982)
  • "El Socialismo" (1997)
  • "El futuro no es lo que era" (co-authorship with Juan Luis Cebrián, 2001)
  • "Memorias del futuro" (2003)

External links

See also

Preceded by:
Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo
Prime Minister of Spain
Followed by:
José María Aznar
de:Felipe González

es:Felipe González Márquez fr:Felipe González gl:Felipe González

pt:Felipe González


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