Felipe González

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Felipe González

Felipe Gonzalez recibe al presidente de la Diputacion General de Aragon (cropped).jpg
González in 1991
Prime Minister of Spain
In office
1 December 1982 4 May 1996
Monarch Juan Carlos I
Deputy Alfonso Guerra
Narcís Serra
Preceded by Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo
Succeeded by José María Aznar
Secretary-General of the
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
In office
28 September 1979 21 June 1997
President Ramón Rubial
Deputy Alfonso Guerra
Preceded byCaretaker committee
Succeeded by Joaquín Almunia
In office
13 October 1974 20 May 1979
President Ramón Rubial (1976–1979)
Preceded by Rodolfo Llopis
Succeeded byCaretaker committee
Leader of the Opposition
In office
4 May 1996 21 June 1997
Prime Minister José María Aznar
Preceded by José María Aznar
Succeeded by Joaquín Almunia
Member of the Congress of Deputies
In office
29 March 2000 2 April 2004
Constituency Seville
In office
2 July 1977 5 April 2000
Constituency Madrid
Personal details
Felipe González Márquez

(1942-03-05) 5 March 1942 (age 77)
Seville, Spain
Political party Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Carmen Romero López
(m. 1969;div. 2008)

Mar García Vaquero(m. 2012)
Education University of Seville
Signature Signature of Felipe Gonzalez.png

Felipe González Márquez (Spanish pronunciation:  [feˈlipe ɣonˈθaleθ ˈmaɾkeθ] , born 5 March 1942) is a Spanish lawyer, professor, and politician, who was the Secretary-General of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) from 1974 to 1997, and the 3rd Prime Minister of Spain since the restoration of democracy, from 1982 to 1996. To date, he remains the longest-serving Prime Minister of Spain to be freely elected.

Spanish Socialist Workers Party political party in Spain

The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party is a social democratic political party in Spain. The PSOE has been in government for a longer time than any other political party in modern democratic Spain: from 1982 to 1996 under Felipe González; from 2004 to 2011 under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and currently since 2018 under Pedro Sánchez.

Prime Minister of Spain head of government of Spain

The Prime Minister of Spain, officially the President of the Government of Spain, is the head of the government of Spain. The office was established in its current form by the Constitution of 1978 and originated in 1823 as a chairmanship of the extant Council of Ministers.

Spanish transition to democracy Political transition following the death of leader Francisco Franco in 1975

The Spanish transition to democracy, known in Spain as the Transition, or the Spanish transition is a period of modern Spanish history, that started on 20 November 1975, the date of death of Francisco Franco, who had established a military dictatorship after the victory of the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. However, historians disagree on the exact date the transition was completed: some say it ended after the 1977 general election; while others place it later, when the 1978 Constitution was approved. Others suggest it ended with the failure of the 1981 attempted coup d'état. At its latest, the Transition is said to have ended with the first peaceful transfer of executive power, after the victory of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) in the 1982 general election.


González joined the PSOE in 1964, when it was banned under the Francoist regime. He obtained a law degree from the University of Seville in 1965. In 1974, the PSOE elected González as its Secretary-General after a split in its 26th Congress. After Franco's death and the beginning of the Spanish transition to democracy, González obtained a seat in the Congress of Deputies after he led the PSOE candidacy in the 1977 general election, but lost to Adolfo Suárez.

Francoist Spain Period of Spain (1936 to 1975)

Francoist Spain, known in Spain as the Francoist dictatorship, officially known as the Spanish State from 1936 to 1947 and the Kingdom of Spain from 1947 to 1975, is the period of Spanish history between 1936 and 1975, when Francisco Franco ruled Spain as dictator with the title Caudillo.

University of Seville university

The University of Seville is a university in Seville, Spain. Founded under the name of Colegio Santa María de Jesús in 1505, it has a present student body of over 65,000, and is one of the top-ranked universities in the country.

Adolfo Suárez Spanish lawyer and politician

Adolfo Suárez González, 1st Duke of Suárez, GE, KOGF, OCIII was a Spanish lawyer and politician. Suárez was Spain's first democratically elected Prime Minister since the Second Spanish Republic and a key figure in the country's transition to democracy after the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

After the PSOE victory in the 1982 general election, González formed his first majority government, backed by 202 out of the 350 deputies at the Congress of Deputies, and led the Government of Spain for thirteen and a half years after three additional victories in the 1986, 1989 and 1993 general elections. In 1996, González lost the election to José María Aznar and the People's Party and was elected to the Congress of Deputies for the last time in the 2000 general election, from Seville.

A majority government refers to one or multiple governing parties that hold an absolute majority of seats in legislature. This is as opposed to a minority government, where the largest party in a legislature only has a plurality of seats.

Government of Spain executive authority of Spain

The Government of Spain is the central government which leads the executive branch and the General State Administration of the Kingdom of Spain. It is also commonly referred to as the Government of the Nation, or simply the Government.

José María Aznar Spanish President from 1996 to 2004

José María Alfredo Aznar López is a Spanish politician who served as the Prime Minister of Spain from 1996 to 2004. He led the People's Party (PP), the dominant right-of-centre party in the country at the time.

Early life

González was born in Bellavista, Seville, the son of a small dairy farmer. He has a sister called Lola González Márquez, married to Francisco Germán Palomino Romera, by whom she has two sons, Felipe and Germán Palomino González. [1] He studied Law at Seville University and started his career as attorney specialising in labor law. While at the University he met members of the clandestine socialist trade union Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT). He also contacted members of the PSOE and started taking part in the party's clandestine activity, necessary under the dictatorship of Franco. During that time he adopted the alias Isidoro and moved to Madrid. He was elected Secretary General of the Party at the Suresnes Congress, in France.

Bellavista is a neighbourhood in the Bellavista-La Palmera district in the south of the city of Seville, Andalusia, Spain. It lies on the east bank of the Guadaira river, a tributary of the Guadalquivir. Bellavista once belonged to the town of Dos Hermanas, but were sold to the city of Seville. Bellavista, which means Beautiful View in Spanish, is thus the southernmost neighbourhood in Seville, and quite separated from the rest of the city.

Seville Place in Andalusia, Spain

Seville is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville, Spain. It is situated on the plain of the river Guadalquivir. The inhabitants of the city are known as sevillanos or hispalenses, after the Roman name of the city, Hispalis. Seville has a municipal population of about 690,000 as of 2016, and a metropolitan population of about 1.5 million, making it the fourth-largest city in Spain and the 30th most populous municipality in the European Union. Its Old Town, with an area of 4 square kilometres (2 sq mi), contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. The Seville harbour, located about 80 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain. Seville is also the hottest major metropolitan area in the geographical Southwestern Europe, with summer average high temperatures of above 35 °C (95 °F).

Unión General de Trabajadores Spanish trade union

The Unión General de Trabajadores is a major Spanish trade union, historically affiliated with the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE).

By the time of Franco's death, González had become the most prominent figure among the left-wing of the democratic opposition to the regime, and played a critical role, along with then serving prime minister Adolfo Suárez, in the Spanish transition to democracy. During the Suárez government, General and vice president Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado asked González not to raise the debate of the Civil War and Franquist repression until the death of those of his generation. [2] [3]

Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado Spanish general and politician

Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, 1st Marquess of Gutiérrez-Mellado was a Spanish Army officer, Honorary Captain General, First Vice-President of the Government for Defense Affairs, 1st Minister of Defense in Spain.

In the first democratic general election after Franco's death, held in 1977, the PSOE became the second most-voted for party, and this served González to appear as a young, active and promising leader. However, he did not win the 1979 election and had to wait for 1982 and the dissolution of the Union of the Democratic Centre party to come into office.

Union of the Democratic Centre (Spain) political party in Spain

The Union of the Democratic Centre was an electoral coalition, and later political party, in Spain, existing from 1977 to 1983. It was initially led by Adolfo Suárez.

Prime Minister of Spain

Felipe Gonzalez (right) arriving at Ypenburg Airport with Ruud Lubbers, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, 1985 Aankomst Spaanse premier Gonzalez op Ypenburg rechts premier Lubbers, Bestanddeelnr 933-3594.jpg
Felipe González (right) arriving at Ypenburg Airport with Ruud Lubbers, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, 1985

In the 1982 general election held on 28 October 1982, the PSOE gained 48.3% of the vote and 202 deputies (out of 350). On 2 December González became President of the Government of Spain, with Alfonso Guerra as his deputy. He was the first socialist to hold the post since the Spanish Civil War, and his government was the first since then in which none of its members had served under Francoism. [4]

His election was met with tremendous expectation of change amongst Spaniards. Under his government universal and free education provision was extended from age 14 to age 16, university education was reformed and expanded, the social security system was extended and a partial legalisation of abortion became law for the first time, despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. González pushed for liberal reforms and a restructuring of the economy.

On 23 February 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 its 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 losses. When they tried to similarly tackle the debt problems in the dock industry in 1984 the dockers went on strike. The UGT, or General Workers' Union, called a general strike on 20 June 1985 in protest against social security reforms. In the same year his government began a massive privatisation, partial or full, of the 200 state owned companies as well as hundreds of affiliates dependent on these companies.

In the 1986 general election held on 22 June 1986, the PSOE gained 44.1% of the vote and 184 deputies in Parliament. González was elected prime minister for the second time. During this second term, Spain joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1986. González supported Spain remaining in NATO that same year in a referendum reversing his and the party's earlier anti-NATO position. A general strike on 14 December 1988 completely paralysed the country and caused the Unions and the PSOE left wing to describe González as moving to the right.

On 29 October 1989, he won the 1989 general election with 39.6% of the vote and 175 seats, [5] his third successive mandate. In the First Gulf War in 1991, González supported the USA. From 1991, the PSOE started losing its urban vote in favour of the reformed People's Party. On the other side, events like the 1992 Olympic Games held in Barcelona or the Universal Exposition in Seville helped in consolidating Spain's international image as a modern, affluent country.

On 6 June 1993, González won the 1993 general election with 38.8% of the vote and 159 deputies. His fourth victory was marred by the fact he was forced to form a pact with nationalist 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 the PSOE in the forthcoming general elections. The People's Party intensified its campaign to associate his period in office with a poor economic situation (although unemployment had begun to decline and the economic reforms of the previous decade initiated a lasting period of economic growth) [6] and with accusations of corruption and state terrorism scandals, including allegations of waging a dirty war against the terrorist group ETA by means of the GAL. There was speculation in the press about Javier Solana as a possible replacement, but Solana was appointed Secretary General of NATO in December 1995.

Left with no other suitable candidate, the party was again led by González and in the 1996 general election held on 3 March 1996, they gained 37.4% of the vote and 141 deputies. They lost the election to the People's Party whose leader José María Aznar replaced González as prime minister ("presidente" in Spanish, but not to be confused with the English use of the term) on 4 or 5 May 1996.

The legacy of Felipe González's long mandate left a bittersweet taste: on the one hand, under his tenure, Spain initiated a period of thorough modernisation; on the other hand the scandals that monopolised the news in his last years still preclude a dispassionate consideration of his tenure.[ citation needed ] His Ministers of Economy and Finance (notably Miguel Boyer, Carlos Solchaga and Pedro Solbes) implemented a vigorous program of economic reforms that included privatisation of public companies such as Telefónica or ENDESA, liberalisation and deregulation of the economy and restructuring of whole industry sectors such as steel or mining which left many people unemployed and created resentment among the working classes and the trade unions. This situation was worsened by the massive influx of female baby-boomers into the labour market, which further increased the unemployment rates.

His cabinets, on the other hand, paved the way to a long period of declining interest rates, low budget deficits and stronger economic growth than the European average[ citation needed ]. Spain was a founding member of the transition to the single currency (Euro) based on the measures of his last government.[ citation needed ] Other reforms had also a deep impact on the Spanish economy, such as the extension of a network of highways, airports and the creation of new infrastructures, including the high speed train. Gonzalez-led cabinets were the first to implement a national, comprehensive infrastructure program that included not only public works but theatres, museums, secondary schools. In addition, a comprehensive welfare state was established, [7] [8] while improvements were made to social programmes such as pensions and unemployment benefits. [9] A 40-hour workweek was introduced, while entitlement to paid holidays was extended to up to 30 days per year. Pension funds were also established, together with provision for social tourism. In addition, the school-leaving age was raised from 14 to 16, while the number of educational grants was multiplied by eight. [10]

Unemployment protection was expanded [11] and a national education system for children under the age of six was established. Cash benefits in social housing, health care and education were introduced, along with earnings-based benefits for widowhood, sickness, disability and retirement. A Ministry of Social Affairs was also set up, allowing for social services to be decentralised in the early Nineties and to be available to all citizens, rather than only to those with social security.

The pension system was extended to needy people, universal public schooling was expanded from all children under the age of 16, and new universities were established. Healthcare was reformed, creating the National Health Service and the development of primary care medicine based on "health centres" where integral primary care for adults, pregnant women and paediatric patients was provided. When he left office, Spain had the best prepared young generation in history and women had stated coping leadership roles as never before. State run Television Española reached a high level of quality under the direction of Pilar Miró. Private television channels were also permitted in 1990, ending the state monopoly.

Felipe González also secured Spain's entry into the EEC, which the country joined in 1986 and consolidated democratic government. Together with François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl, he gave an injection of new life to Europe's public face. He was the sole support of Kohl's drive to a united Germany, counteracting British and French hostility. He also started diplomatic relations with Israel, which had never been established by Franco because of Antisemitism. Due to his prestige,[ citation needed ] Spain also housed peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis in 1990; these were chaired by President George H. W. Bush of the United States and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

In the fight against terrorism, an intense police campaign secured several victories that left the terrorist organisation ETA severely debilitated. In his earlier years ETA killings totalled dozens per year (the 1987 Hipercor bombing attack in Barcelona alone killed more than 10 people), while in his latter years ETA killed far fewer. During his time as Prime Minister a group called GAL was active as a gangster-style force targeting etarras (ETA members). Several innocent people were killed and the subsequent investigations ended with some police officers and the Minister of Internal Affairs, José Barrionuevo, condemned to jail. The Constitutional Court later ratified the sentence. Among successful operations were the capture of the ETA central arsenal and archives in Sokoa (France) and the capture of the organisation's ruling body in 1992.

However, in the final years of his mandate several cases of corruption, the most notable of which were the scandals involving Civil Guard Director Roldán, further eroded popular support for the PSOE. Nonetheless González and most of his ministers generally managed to leave office with their reputation intact although there had been some singularly unfortunate choices made in the case of some of the lower ranking public servants, according to María Antonia Iglesias (La memoria recuperada. Lo que nunca han contado Felipe González y los dirigentes socialistas, 2003); this author is very close, though, to the PSOE official line, as she served as head of the public TV broadcaster Televisión Española after appointment to the post by one of Gonzalez' cabinets.

Lately, his role as a decisive statesman in the latter part of the 20th century has been recognised. One of his most bitter adversaries, Luis MarÍa Ansón, at the time director of the right wing newspaper ABC and later of the hard right La Razón has stated that Gonzalez "was the best prime minister that Spain had in the 20th century". He also stated that he and many others (mainly newspaper owners and media pundits) started a witch hunt against him, in support of the Popular Party, out of fear that Gonzalez's leadership might last several decades.

After the premiership

González ended his fourth term on 4 May 1996. Since September 1996 he has headed the Madrid-based Global Progress Foundation (FPG). At the beginning of the 34th PSOE National Congress on 20 June 1997 he surprisingly resigned 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. He was only replaced at the 35th party Congress in July 2000 when José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero became the leader.

In 1997 he was considered a leading candidate to take over the position of President of the European Commission after Jacques Santer. [12] The position ultimately went to Italy's Romano Prodi.

Felipe Gonzalez with President Cristina Fernandez at Nestor Kirchner's funeral in 2010 Felipe Gonzalez funeral Nestor Kirchner.jpg
Felipe Gonzalez with President Cristina Fernandez at Nestor Kirchner's funeral in 2010
Gonzalez at the Global Governance event at Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City 2012 05082012Global governance061.jpg
Gonzalez at the Global Governance event at Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City 2012

In 1999 González 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 21st Socialist International Congress on 8–9 November 1999.

He stood down as a deputy in the Spanish Parliament in March 2004.

On 27 July 2007 the Spanish Government appointed him plenipotentiary and extraordinary ambassador for the bicentenary celebrations in commemoration of the independence of Latin America. The celebrations will begin in September 2010 in Mexico. [13]

At a summit held in Brussels on 14 December 2007, heads of state and government of European Union member states appointed González chairman of a think tank on the future of Europe. The group, consisting of up to nine prestigious personalities commissioned to drawing up a report, by June 2010, on the challenges facing the European Union from 2020 to 2030, will also look at how to achieve a closer understanding between citizens and the Union. [14]

From 2010 to 2015, González was appointed independent director in Gas Natural-Fenosa, one of the leading energy companies in Spain, being one of the best known high-profile cases of revolving doors in Spanish politics. [15]

Since 2015 he has taken an active role in criticizing the emerging party Podemos, which he considers a populist threat, and have actively lobbied the PSOE against approaching Podemos for any possible government coalition. [16] González supported PSOE candidate Pedro Sánchez in the 2015 and 2016 general elections, but in the aftermath Sánchez announced talks with Podemos and Catalan separatist parties. González then supported Susana Diaz faction in a bitter internal struggle which ended with PSOE facilitating the investiture of the conservative government and the dismissal of Pedro Sánchez. [17]

In 2015 González traveled to Venezuela to support Leopoldo López and other imprisoned opposition leaders. [18] His involvement came at the same time mainstream media and political parties were accusing emerging Podemos of having links with the Venezuelan government. [19]

González is a member of the Club of Madrid, [20] an independent non-profit organisation composed of 81 democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 57 different countries.

Personal life

González married María del Carmen Julia Romero y López in Seville on 16 July 1969 and had three children: Pablo González Romero, David González Romero and María González Romero (lawyer). He divorced Carmen Romero in 2008. In 2012 he married Mar García Vaquero. [21]

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

See also

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  1. "Felipe González Marquez, * 1942 - Geneall.net". www.geneall.net.
  2. González, Felipe and Cebrián, Juan Luis (2001) El future no es lo sue era
  3. Díez, Luis (10 March 2010). "Las listas de los esclavos del franquismo". Cuarto Poder  [ es ].
  4. The administration of Felipe González, 1982-96 at Encyclopedia Britannica
  5. Spain's Ministry of the Interior: Official election results Archived 24 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  6. http://www.ine.es/daco/daco42/cne00/pib.xls#Tabla_2!A1
  7. "Felipe González Speaker, Speeches, Booking Agent, Agency". Thinking heads. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  8. http://digital.csic.es/bitstream/10261/1526/1/dt-0212e.pdf
  9. http://digital.csic.es/bitstream/10261/2025/1/dt-9704.pdf
  10. Spain: From Dictatorship to Democracy by Javier Tusell
  11. PDF Archived 3 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  12. "Europe's presidential race: the form", The Economist, 11 June 1998, retrieved 16 September 2009
  13. SER, Cadena (26 July 2007). "El Gobierno nombrará mañana a Felipe González embajador extraordinario para el bicentenario de la independencia de América".
  14. "Felipe González presidirá el Grupo de Reflexión sobre el futuro de Europa".
  15. "Gas Natural Fenosa incorporates Felipe González to its Board as an independent director". www.gasnaturalfenosa.com. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  16. País, Ediciones El (9 December 2015). "Ex-PM González joins campaign fray with attack against Podemos". EL PAÍS. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  17. Burgen, Stephen; agencies (23 October 2016). "Spain's Socialists lift veto to allow Rajoy minority government". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  18. "Felipe Gonzalez in Venezuela: Ex-Spain PM to help opposition". BBC News. 7 June 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  19. Minder, Raphael (19 June 2016). "Venezuela Casts a Long Shadow on Elections in Spain". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  20. The Club of Madrid is an independent non-profit organization composed of 81 democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 57 different countries. It constitutes the world's largest forum of former Heads of State and Government, who have come together to respond to a growing demand for support among leaders in democratic leadership, governance, crisis and post-crisis situations. All lines of work share the common goal of building functional and inclusive societies, where the leadership experience of the members is most valuable.
  21. "Felipe González se ha casado con su novia, Mar García Vaquero" by Mábel Galaz @ El País , 3 August 2012

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo
Prime Minister of Spain
Succeeded by
José María Aznar
Preceded by
José María Aznar
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Joaquín Almunia
Party political offices
Preceded by
Rodolfo Llopis
Secretary-General of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Succeeded by
Caretaker committee
Title last held by
Ramón González Peña
Leader of the Socialist Group in the Congress of Deputies
Succeeded by
Alfonso Guerra
Preceded by
Caretaker committee
Secretary-General of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Succeeded by
Joaquín Almunia