Both the majority of Spaniards and of the international community admired Felipe
Gonzalez's political schema during his charismatic years as Prime Minister of Spain
(1982-1996). He was one of the key political figures in the transformation from General
Franco's dictatorship to the parliamentary social democracy that stands today. It was his
stamina and charisma that gave the people faith in their newly established social ..
democracy. He could coax the King, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the public
into supporting whatever plan or policy he sought to implement. Inevitably, Gonzalez
came to rely on his phenomenal persuasiveness to stay in power.
Even the principles of his socialist party, the Partido Socialists Obrero Espanol (PSOE),
were not immune to manipulation by Felipe Gonzalez. Surprisingly, however, despite all
his questionable political adjustments and opportunistic maneuvering, his overall
popularity escalated. If need be, he could persuade the populace to accept a violent
catastrophe and convince them that it was a boon. The Spaniards continued to follow
Gonzalez, when the economy was frail, unemployment was growing, and most vividly
when he was all-too-willing to compromise his party's principles.
Just as Russia's autocratic past tainted the implementation of socialist principles there to
such an extent that the USSR cannot be considered a valid socialist experiment, the
highly personalistic political culture of Spain combined with the personal
and opportunistic guile of Felipe Gonzalez to render unrecognizable the socialism