· Personality · · T. Maria Cruz · P. Rights Reserved

Mário Soares

Father of Democracy

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«I am a socialist, a republican and a layman». This was how Mário Soares described himself. The lines that riddled his face recounted some of the passages of his life. A life of struggling for ideals; of persistence and achievements. Born in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon in 1924, he was one of the most important figures in the history of the nation’s politics. At the age of 92, after 26 days in hospital, he left us. And he left in us all, as a nation, an unmistakable legacy.

Mário Soares co-founded the Portuguese Socialist Party in 1973. He began his career in opposition to the Estado Novo, which led him to him being deported by the Salazar regime to São Tomé and Príncipe, where he lived for eight months during the Marcello Caetano government. He always excelled as a party leader in the democratic field. Soares’ career in politics rested on the defence of a parliamentary democracy (a process of transmission from the dictatorship to a parliamentary democracy that was far from being the consensus opinion); the defence of decolonisation; and the entry of Portugal into the process of political construction for joining the European Community. He was a three-time prime minister and served two terms as President of the Republic between 1986 and 1996.

In 1999, Mário Soares, already with an unparalleled political career, once again ran for European Parliament. At that time, you would have expected him to retire from politics, but he didn’t. He preferred to remain true to who he was. Instead of writing his memoirs, or enjoying the pleasure of rest, he continued his struggle. At the time, many journalists asked him: «But what could cause you, after having been called the ‘father of democracy’, to enter into political battle?» Mário Soares replied: «Someone who has lived all his life fighting, believing in causes, does not hide away and is ready for confrontation». Mário Soares continued to play an active role in society, if nothing else, he never relented from commenting on recent political events, despite his advanced age. And he did so both through the articles he wrote, and through his involvement in events. He was one of the most popular politicians that Portugal has ever had. «Soares is cool» is the slogan that history will not forget.

Maria Cruz
T. Maria Cruz
P. Rights Reserved
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