Obituary: Francisco Fernandez

Francisco Fernandez Ordonez, lawyer and politician, born Madrid 22 June 1930, Minister of Finance 1977-79, Minister of Justice 1980-81, Minister for Foreign Affiars 1985- 92, married Maria Paz Garcia Mayo, died Madrid 7 August 1992.

FRANCISCO Fernandez Ordonez was a key figure in Spain's transition to democracy, and secured considerable international prestige for his country as Minister of Foreign Affairs, a post he held from 1985 until a few weeks ago, when he was forced to step down by ill-health.

Fernandez Ordonez was the most trusted colleague of the Spanish Prime Minister, Felipe Gonzalez. Cultured, affable and witty, he was a particular favourite with press and public alike who saw him as the most able man in the cabinet. Even his foreign counterparts affectionately called him by the diminutive 'Paco'. He made good use of his skills, propelling Spain into the forefront of international affairs and consolidating its place in Europe. His success in persuading all parties to launch the Middle East peace conference in Madrid last year was a particular triumph which confirmed Spain's role as intermediary between the West and its traditional Arab allies.

Although Fernandez Ordonez's deteriorating health finally forced Gonzalez to replace him as Minister of Foreign Affairs, just before the Latin American summit he so dearly hoped to make his swan- song, he continued to advise the Prime Minister and to hope for a reprieve.

During his career, Fernandez Ordonez was often the source of bitter controversy. He was born in Madrid in 1930 and trained as a lawyer despite family opposition. He was one of the few Spaniards of his generation to study abroad, specialising in tax affairs at Harvard University. He returned to Spain to hold various posts in the Franco administration while establishing links with other opponents of the regime who were to form the Union Centro Democratico (United Democratic Centre) after Franco's death. He served as Minister of Finance in the transitional government led by Adolfo Suarez, from 1977 to 1979, and pushed through unpopular reforms of the tax system. As Minister of Justice in 1980-81, he passed a divorce law which earned him the enmity of many Conservatives and prompted his opponents to remark: 'He has stolen our money, and now he wants to steal our wives.' His success, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, in finally establishing diplomatic relations with Israel in 1986 was also the result of hard-fought battles. Gibraltar was a running sore on which he took a hard line while ensuring Spain and Britain enjoyed otherwise excellent relations.

Fernandez Ordonez's jump to the Socialist party as it came close to power was seen by many as an opportunist move which prompted little change in his liberal, social-democratic views. He claimed never to have sought power for itself but as a means 'to achieving a personal vision of where Spain ought to be'. It was his success in doing this that earned him the affection and gratitude of Spaniards who saw their country, once ostracised by the world, elevated to the forefront of international affairs thanks in large measure to his efforts.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn