Felipe Gonzalez was born in Seville, Spain, in 1942. While studying at university he joined the illegal Socialist Party (PSOE). After the death of General Francisco Franco the PSOE regained its legal status.
Gonzalez, a lawyer, was appointed Secretary-General of the PSOE in 1980. He persuaded the party to adopt a less Marxist programme and in 1982 the PSOE won the Spanish General Election. Gonzalez therefore led the first socialist administration since that of Juan Negrin in 1936.
Gonzalez held power until the conservative Popular Party, led by Jose Maria Aznar, won the 1996 General Election.