Guerra, Alfonso

Guerra, Alfonso
b. 1941, Seville
   Together with his life-long friend, Felipe González, Alfonso Guerra played a key role during the transition process in rebuilding the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) which had been left seriously weakened by the Civil War and the subsequent Francoist dictatorship. He was one of the so-called "young turks" within Spain who mounted a sustained assault against the exiled socialist leadership, based in Toulouse since 1947, who had failed to respond to the changes occurring within Spanish society. Control of the party was finally wrested from the exiled leadership when official recognition was granted by the Socialist International to the "renovators" of the interior in 1972.
   From that moment onwards, Guerra became the perfect partner to González. Whilst González adopted a much higher public profile befitting the charismatic leader he was to become, Guerra, a meticulous organizer and strategist, worked diligently behind the scenes to establish a dynamic party machine. He masterminded the organizational changes within the PSOE at the XXVIII Congress in 1979 which dramatically reduced the number of delegations represented (50 as opposed to 1,000) and introduced a form of block vote. These organizational changes consolidated power within the leadership and turned the PSOE into a highly centralized, disciplined organization, closely controlled by Guerra himself. The largest delega-tion which controls 25 percent of the total vote, the Andalusian, has been seen almost as Guerra's personal fiefdom. This unity and discipline paved the way for the PSOE's subsequent electoral successes throughout the 1980s.
   Following the first Socialist victory in the 1982 general elections, Guerra was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, in addition to his position as Deputy General Secretary of the party. Shortly after the 1989 general elections, however, when the Socialists were returned to office only one seat short of an absolute majority, his brother, Juan Guerra, was accused of peddling influence and using government resources to amass a personal fortune. As a result Alfonso Guerra was forced to resign as Deputy Prime Minister in early 1991, though he remained deputy General Secretary of the party. His departure exacerbated a division which had been growing for some time between the socialist party machine which remained committed, in theory at least, to socialism, and a socialist government which had drifted to the right. Guerra's departure was also evidence of a personal and ideological rift between himself and González. Guerra heads a more orthodox leftwing "guerrista" faction within the party which espouses a populist leftist rhetoric. This faction, purged from the 1993 government, has frequently clashed with the other main faction within the Socialist Party led by Carlos Solchaga, minister of the economy from 1985 to 1993, and backed by González: the so-called "renovadores", who advocate a liberal market-oriented version of social democracy. Thus, the early collaboration between González and Guerra which was the key to the organizational unity and discipline of the PSOE throughout the 1980s, has been replaced by an increasingly bitter division within the party between "guerristas" and "renovadores" led by Guerra and González respectively.
   Further reading
   - Fernández Braso, M. and Guerra, A. (1983) Conversaciones con Alfonso Guerra, Barcelona: Planeta (an interesting account exploring Guerra's personal views on a wide range of topics).
   - Miralles, M. and Satue, F. (1991) Alfonso Guerra, el conspirador, Madrid: Temas de Hoy (a journalistic, lively account of Alfonso Guerra).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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