Gonzalez agrees to lead party in early poll
Tuesday 19 December 1995
Felipe Gonzalez agreed yesterday to lead his Socialist party into an early election next March, despite having said for months, indeed years, that he wanted to stand down.
"The truth is it doesn't please me at all, but that's how it is," Mr Gonzalez said of his seventh candidature. The Prime Minister bowed to the pressure of the party's federal executive to stand in his seventh election campaign, but the consensus was more resigned than enthusiastic, in recognition that no better candidate could be found.
Mr Gonzalez had been quietly preparing the ground for his Foreign Minister, Javier Solana, to succeed him, but that plan was scuppered when Mr Solana was appointed Secretary-General of Nato earlier this month. It was then too late to find a convincing alternative, although only 10 days ago Mr Gonzalez wondered aloud if he had become, like Margaret Thatcher, more of a problem for his party than a solution.
Mr Gonzalez's name has become smeared with scandal, primarily because of a dirty war waged against Eta suspects in the 1980s. Two former ministers are before the Supreme Court suspected of covert anti-terrorist actions in the early years of his rule. This has tarnished his electoral appeal, but party leaders reckoned that the Socialists' prospects would nosedive were he to cut and run so soon before an election.
The conservative opposition Popular Party is tipped to win in March, but possibly falling short of an overall majority. Its leader, Jose Maria Aznar, has failed to ignite public enthusiasm or to exploit fully the government's misfortunes.
Basking in the afterglow of a successful six-month EU presidency that ended at the weekend, Mr Gonzalez is likely to play the international card strongly. Critics say this is a ploy to divert attention from domestic woes, including a record 22.7 per cent unemployment.
His leadership has been undisputed since he became general secretary in 1974 when the party was still illegal. By 1979, his invincibility was such that when he stood down in protest at calling the party Marxist, the comrades dumped the Marxist tag rather than lose him. He fought elections in 1977 and 1979 and won in 1982, 1986, 1989 and 1993.
Mr Solana has been replaced by Carlos Westendorp, the Minister for European Relations.
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Budget 2015: George Osborne to axe subsidies for higher income earners in social housing
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...