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Mario Soares
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World Leader
    (December 7, 1924-January 7, 2017)
    Born in Lisbon, Portugal
    Founding member of the Portuguese Socialist Party (1973)
    Two-time Foreign Minister (1974-75,1977-78)
    Two-time Prime Minister of Portugal (1976-78,1983-85)
    President of Portugal (1986-96)
    Member of the European Parliament (1999-2004)
    Called ‘the father of Portuguese democracy’
    He was nicknamed ‘the Pumpkin’ for his pudgy, but otherwise nondescript, features.
    He joined the Portuguese Communist Party while a university student.
    Although his Socialists had failed to win a majority in Parliament in the 1976 elections, he refused to form a coalition government, which he later admitted was a mistake.
    After a year of making ad hoc deals with different opposition parties, he formed a coalition with the conservative Center Social Democrat Party – even though he had earlier called the CSDP ‘a refuge for fascists.’
    He eventually lost a vote of confidence in parliament and was forced to resign (August 28, 1978).
    He and actress Maria Barroso were married for 66 years until her death.
    He had a personal library of over 10,000 books.
    He quit the Communist Party (1951).
    He was repeatedly jailed, tortured and exiled for protesting against the dictatorship of Antonio de Olivera Salazar.
    He was instrumental in negotiating Portugal’s entry into the European Community.
    He said the proper goal of any government is to ‘concentrate our energies on the fight to eradicate poverty, ignorance, and intolerance.’
    In a 2007 poll to name the greatest Portuguese person, he was the highest-ranked living person (at #12 overall).

Credit: C. Fishel


 
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