Mr. Felipe González Márquez
Chairman of the Board, Atomium Culture
Behind his astute leadership skills and political acumen, Gonzalez was elected to an unprecedented four consecutive terms as Prime Minister of Spain. During his tenure in office, he pushed the nation into an era of economic growth it had not seen for over half a century, culminating in a successful integration into the European Union.
Felipe Gonzalez was born in Seville, Spain in 1942. While enrolled at the University of Seville in 1962, where he would eventually earn a degree in law, he joined the Spanish Socialists’ Party (PSOE), which had been an illegal organization since the Spanish Civil War had returned power to the Tradionalist Conservatives in 1939. Soon after his graduation, Gonzalez found success teaching law in Seville while also representing workers in litigation cases.
With the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975, the PSOE’s legality was restored and, behind the leadership of Felipe Gonzalez, assumed 118 (of 303) seats in Parliament and 29.2% of the vote in Spain’s first post-Franco general election. Once reinstated into the National government, Gonzalez pushed rid the PSOE of their Marxist doctrines to appeal to all classes. He succeeded in 1979, and was named the party’s Secretary General.
In the 1982 general election, the PSOE gained 48.3% of the vote and Felipe Gonzalez was named Prime Minister of Spain at the age of 40, making him Europe’s youngest Head of Government. He went on to hold the office through four more elections until the Popular Party commanded control in the 1996 general election. During this 16-year span, Gonzalez pushed for liberal reforms and a restructuring of the economy, which had been long stagnant under the guidance of the old regime. The economic conditions of Spain saw vast improvements under the guidance of Gonzalez, including a landmark inclusion within the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the European Union, in 1986.
Felipe Gonzalez was awarded the Charlemagne Prize for distinguished service on behalf of European Unification in 1993 and in 1997, and was honored with the Great Golden Cross for Merit by the Republic of Austria.
Gonzalez resigned as the leader of the PSOE in 1997, though he still remains involved in its processes. He currently heads the Madrid based Global Progress Foundation (FPG), and enjoys tending to bonsai trees, many of which he has donated to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Madrid.