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Soares, Mário (1924–)

Portuguese socialist politician, prime minister (1976–1978, 1983–1985), and president (1986–1996). Born on 12 July 1924 in Lisbon, Mário Alberto Nobre Lópes Soares graduated with a degree in history, philosophy, and law from the University of Lisbon in 1957. While there, he joined the Portuguese Communist Party. He was arrested multiple times during the era of the Estado Novo (New State), the conservative, clerical fascist regime under António de Oliveira Salazar, who ruled Portugal during 1932–1968. In 1951 Soares quit the Communist Party and went back to college to study law. By the 1960s he had aligned himself with the socialists and in April 1964, together with Francisco Ramos da Costa and Manuel Tito de Morais, created the Acção Socialista Portuguesa (Portuguese Socialist Action).

In March 1968, Soares was again arrested and banished for eight months to the island of São Tomé. He returned to Portugal but by 1970 had been banished again, this time to Italy, although he eventually settled in France. He returned to Portugal after the 25 April 1974 Carnation Revolution that ousted Marcelo Caetano.

In the aftermath of the coup, Soares was appointed minister for overseas negotiations and helped arrange the independence of Mozambique. However, the coalition government of the Movement of the Armed Forces (MFA), coupled with the growing strength of the Portuguese Communist Party, caused Soares to question the direction of the revolution. He was instrumental in the resignation of Premier Vasco dos Santos Gonçalves. Elections were held in April 1976, and the socialists won sufficient seats for Soares to become premier. In July 1976, Soares was sworn in as the first premier under the new Portuguese constitution.

Soares and the socialists were unable to form a strong majority on the Left because of a rift with the communists. In 1997 he applied for Portugal to join the European Economic Community (EEC). He resigned in late 1978. Reelected in 1983, he served until 1985, when he lost to the Social Democrats and Aníbal Cavaco Silva.

Soares subsequently ran for president in 1986, winning by a narrow margin, but he won reelection in 1991 with a clear majority. He did not seek reelection in 1996, but in 1999 he headed the socialist ticket in elections to the European Parliament, where he served until the 2004 elections.

David H. Richards


Further Reading
Soares, Mário. Portugal's Struggle for Liberty. London: Allen and Unwin, 1975.
 

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