150. News of the World (1965-1975): France

Jacques-Maurice Couve de Murville and Willy Brandt
seeing here during one the diplomatic meetings of
the first attempt for a German-French rapprochement

150. News of the World (1965-1975): France

Many were surprised when Jouhaud called for elections in 1965. Not so many were surprised by the right-center victory, though. Jacques-Maurice Couve de Murville
had been able to form a suitable coalition rangin for the center of the right to almost the right of the center politician into a viable party. For the first time since the end of the war, the Conservatives were trully united and able to articulate a message that appealed to most of the French voters. Thus, de Murville became the new prime minister and as the foreign minister. Soon it was clear that the de facto head of the government was Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, as de Murville focused on the international relations.

Giscard, listening to those in his party and in the industry who were frustrated by the contradicting policies of previous governments, which, in his opinion, forestalled the development of the French economy, In spite of Giscard's good intentions, he had only one term in office to carry out his plans, but he achieved remarkable results. He launched a massive modernization plan of the French railways, which led to an impressive expansion of the railroad system. He also launched a reshaping of the industry as a whole with a big program of privatizations and then embarked into a tax-break bill to encourage French industries to invest in new technologies and sites. This measure would come to bit him back, as the modernization of many industries led to many thousands of wrokers to loose their jobs. Thus, for many, Giscad is remembered as a man who attempted to modernize France. However, his terrible social policies -or, better said, the absence of social measures- and the rising unemployment led to the collapse of the Conservative government in the elections of 1970.

Murville's successor, the Socialist François Mitterrand is source of a long lasting controversy. For many, he was a champion of social justice. For many others, he divided France and opened an abyss that still divided the country in two. Mitterrand agreed with Giscard in the need of modernsing France. The methods were where they departed ways. For Miterrand the answer was not in the industry, but in the French society. He began with the School Bill of 1971 and went on. In short, private education was greatly reduced in France, in spite of the oposition from the conervative parties, and classic education was replaced by more technical studies, too. Then, the French economy came to a sudden halt when most of its industry overextended itself in their modernization process and had to cut losses. Even this crisis could not stop Mitterand, who won the General Elections of 1974 with a healthy majority in the French Parliament and with good opinion polls. However, as the crisis made itself deeper in the following, the French society turned fast against him and his own party decided to remove him from power to cut losses as his government collapsed amidst internal quarrels of its members. It was just a question of time that a vote of no-confidence ended Miterrand's suffering.

Thus, France would return to the polls in 1976 just as Fausto Guilo announced to the world that Italy was going to open a process of "openness and transparency", and France would change forever, again.
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151. News of the World (1965-1975): United Kingdom

British SAS "unoficially" deployed in Mozambique
to secure the embargo against Rhodesia

151. News of the World (1965-1975): United Kingdom

In spite of the repeated Laborist success in the elections since 1949, the United Kingdom had not undergone an orgy of nationalizations as many had feared. Labour governments had promoted cooperation with the firms instead of direct control, an idea that had even been copied and adapted by the Liberals. High tech industry replaced the old and traditional heavy industries in the 1950s-1960s had transformed not only the British economy, but also its society as the traditional jobs were replaced by the new ones. Thus, 1965 would mark the beginning of the gradual transition from fossil fuels to nuclear and renewable energies, something that would make the UK the world leader in nuclear and clean energy by the late 1970s.

However, the Laborist foreign policy was to offset his great achievements. As the Rhodesian moderate and pro-civil rights government headed by Garfield Todd had managed to introduce modest reforms in the education of the black majority but at the expense of angering the white Rhodesian property owners, who were taxed to pay for the black schools. Thus, Todd was able to double the number of primary schools and to introduce secondary school and pre-university courses for blacks. However, this and the progressive expansion of the franchise to blacks and the support of the civil rights movement lead by Joshua Nkomo had pushed many conservative white settlers towards the white supremacist Rhodesian Front Party (“RF”) led by Winston Field. Eventually, Todd was defeated in the first Rhodesian general elections of 1962, which were won by the RF. Field's government began to implement the Rhodesian version of the South African "Apartheid" At the same time, a white supremacist paramilitary group known as the "Black Boots" began a campaign of violence to terrorize the Black community. Even if Field denied any official relation with the "Black Boots", its lack of enthusiasm to end the violence and the use of military weapons by the paramilitaries began to raise many doubts about Field's denials. Eventually, Field, who was deemed to be too "soft" by the white supremacists, was replaced by John Gaunt, a former Federal MP for Lusaka, in the spring of 1964.

Not willing to see Rhodesia going the same bloody path that had wreaked havoc to Lumumba's Congo (1), a meeting of prime ministers of the Commonwealth took place in London in early 1965. The British Prime Minister, George Brown, clearly stated that his government was in no position to grant independence to any colony of with a population of European settlers except under conditions of majority rule. Of course, Gaunt initially balked at the suggestion, and he refused to accept those conditions and withdrew from the meeting, followed by Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, the South African prime minister whose refusal to grant Namibia its independence had incensed Downing Street in 1964. Later on, Brown, who was against drinking too heavily, lost his temper during a meetin gwith the press after the end of conference and launched a vicious attack against Gaunt and Verwoerd and 'their bloody and shameful institution' [the Apartheid]. It goes without saying that such an outburst, Brown not only seriously damaged the British relations with Rhodesia and South African relations, but also finished Brown's political career.However, Verwoerd's actions were not left unpunished. Until then, the Commonwealth had an unofficial "Big Five" council within its structure made by the prime ministers of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa and India. When the council met again during the conference, Verwoerd was replaced by Mumtaz Daulatana, the Pakistani prime minister. Even if this was a short lived solution -Daulatana would be removed from power by the 1967 Pakistani coup d'etat led by Air Marshal Asghar Khan), it was not only a show of Commonwealth unity and strength but also a clear indication to Pretoria that it should stand down or else. However, Verwoerd was not impressed by this and, in March 1966, South Africa became a Republic and abandoned the Commonwealth. From then on, the National Party would move even further to the extreme right under John Vorster, who became the new South African prime minister in September 1966, and began to send military aid and supplies to Rhodesia.

Meawnhile, Gaunt was replaced by a hardliner, Ian Smith, who in September 1966, visited Lisbon, where Portuguese prime minister António de Oliveira Salazar promised him 'maximum support' if he should declare independence. A Rhodesian Trade Office was opened in Lisbon in order to co-ordinate breaking the anticipated sanctions in the event of a unilateral declaration of independence. In its turn, it also functioned as a de facto embassy and caused tension with London, which objected to Rhodesia conducting its own foreign policy. Salazar's promises gave Smith more grounds for self-confidence in his talks with London and refused to accept the proposed principles ofr independence. Then, a referendum on independence was held in Rhodesia on 5 November 1966. The result was a landslide for the "yes" vote, which was the choice of over 90% of voters. Then, On January 1st, 1967 Smith's government made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence, making the country a de facto independent state. The British Government did not accept the Rhodesian independence as they did not view the referendum as representative of all of Rhodesian citizens, and it was immediately denounced as an 'act of rebellion against the Crown'. London called on the Commonwealth members to sever economic ties with Rhodesia, recommending sanctions on petroleum products and military hardware and then dispatched a Royal Navy squadron to monitor oil deliveries in the port of Beira in Mozambique, from which a strategic pipeline ran to Umtali in Rhodesia. The warships were to deter "by force, if necessary". The United States made it clear that Rhodesia would not be recognised 'under [any] circumstances'. Even Portugal, although sympathetic, did not recognise Rhodesia as an independent state, maintaining only a Diplomatic Representative in Salisbury. Only South Africa recognised the new state.

Five months later, the first units of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), having received prior training in Romania, crossed into Rhodesia from Zambia. It was the beginning of the "Bush War". 1968, the Rhodesian army, with South African support (and Portuguese backing behind the courtain), was able to regain control of most of the country but proved unable to defeat the ZANLA in the countryside. Then, in August 1968, Salazar suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died. His authoritarian regime did not survive him and, on April 25 1969, the military overthrew the regime in the Carnation Revolution, which was followed the withdrawal of Portuguese administrative and military personnel from its overseas colonies. Hundreds of thousands of Portuguese Africans returned to Portugal. Angola and Mozanbique (along with East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe) became independent nations, furher isolating Rhodesia and South Africa.

The Tory victory in the General Elections of 1970 was to be the last hurrah of the Conservative Party. The new Prime Minister, Edward Heath, reformed Britain's system of local government, reducing the number of local authorities and creating a number of new metropolitan counties. In 1973 he joined the Treaty of Paris with Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to regulate their industrial production. Six years later, an attempt to further extend this collaboration into forming a regional organisation that aimed to bring about economic integration among its member states would fail when it was rejected by both Paris and London. Heath had to deal also with the rising of tension in Northern Ireland, which led, also in 1973, to the August riots and the deployment of British troops in Derry and Belfast to restore order. It was the beginning of Troubles (1973-1998); another battlefront for the prime minister were the miner's strikes of 1972 and 1974, which greatly helped in the Tory's defeat in the general election in October 1975, which were won by the Liberal Margaret Thatcher.

(1) The Congo Crisis goes more or less like IOTl.
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152. News of the World (1965-1975): the United States

152. News of the World (1965-1975): the United States

1965 is most remembered by the gruesome murder of George Wallace by the deranged Charles Manson (August 8, 1965), who had recently escaped from McNeil Island. As Manson later own claimed, he had killed Wallace because the Democrat politician intended to start a race war that would eventually developed into a full nuclear war. Mason would be executed in the gas chamber of San Quentin State Prison on September 18, 1969.

Two years later, President Jackson, who had won the elections riding the victorious wave that followed the short Cuban War (1961), found himself facing the so-called "Sarajevo Spring", which broke out in 1967 in Yugoslavia. After the unexpected death of Tito (July 23, 1965), Konstantin Popović had attempted to keep his legacy, but the more prosperous republics of Slovenia and Croatia wanted to move towards decentralization and democracy. As the rapid economic growth that Yugoslavia knew with Tito suddenly stalled, the politics of austerity brought to the fore tensions between the well off "have" republics like Slovenia and Croatia versus the poorer "have not" republics like Serbia, this led to the resignation of Popovic, who was replaced by Mika Špiljak, who attempted to push ahead a pack of liberal reforms to the socialist state. The economy was slightly decentralized, some liberties restored to the general populace, and the border was opened to Austria. Rome send furious demands to the Špiljak regime to return to the Marxist ortodoxy, but when the negotiations collapsed after only a week, a quarter of a million Italian, Hungarian, Romanian and Bulgarian troops waited at the borders for the order to invade.

However, Špiljak was deposed in a bloodless coup d'etat (January 5, 1967) and replaced by Džemal Bijedić, which led, two weeks later, to widespread popular protests on the streets and. by January 12, Yugoslavia seemed to be on the verge of civil war as, on February 23, a Provisional Government led by Mitja Ribičič declared the independence of Slovenia, When the government enacted martial law, violent protests took place in Croatia and Bosnia (February 26-28). Then, Croatia declared also its independence on March 2 and, that night, Rome took matters in its own hands when General Secretary Fausto Guilo ordered 200,000 troops and 2,000 tanks to enter the country. The first crack in the Communist unity came a few minutes later, when the Hungarian and Romanian premiers refused to join the military intervention and withdrew their forces from the Yugoslavian border. Romanian Prime Secretary Nicolae Ceauşescu gave a speech critical of the invasion, in front of a crowd in Bucharest on March 5, where he objected furiously the Italian intervention , That same day, President Jackson recognized the independent states of Slovenia and Croatia and demanded the withdrawal of the invading forces. Canada, Denmark, France, the United Kingdom and Germany requested a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Eventually, on March 9, Guilo ordered this forces to withdraw from Yugoslavia.

The crisis would be solved a few months later (September 1967, when Slovenia and Croatia became Socialist Republics under the "guidance" of Rome. To say that the Rome Pact had been shaken by a political and diplomatic turmoil was an understatement. The standing of Guilio had suffered a heavy hit, to such an extent that the Italian Communist Party began to consider his replacement. then, misteriously, half of the Italian Politburo suddenly withdrew from politics by their own volition or due to a sudden decay of their health, while Palmiro Togliatti and Giorgio Napolitano where found dead in their homes after suffering both a massive hearth attack. With Togliatti and Napòlitano out of the picture, Guilio promoted men of his trust to replace them: Giuseppe Di Vittorio, chief of the communist trade union Italian General Confederation of Labour. and the Italian Socialist Party national secretary, Pietro Nenni. Thus ended the "Sarajevo Spring" crisis.

In the elections of 1968, Lyndon Johnson defeated with ease the Republican nominée, Nelson Rockefeller and, on top of this, the Democrats dominated the Senate. It was with LBJ that the social measures taken under Jackson were pushed ahead, as the social help to less favoured members of the American community, those ignored by the "American Dream". However, under Johnson, the United States began to take a conservative turn. His first action surprised friends and foes alike: the nomination of the quite unpopular and divisive George Harrold Carswell as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to replace Hugo Black. And then, in 1968, the US economy entered in the red zone when inflation skyrocketed (5.25%) alongside the unemployment rate (8.1% by 1968). Furthermore, interest rates were at their highest in a century. LBJ launched himself to correct this mistake. However, he was unwilling (and unable) to reduce the military commitment of his country in Vietnam, even if the Vietcong had been utterly crushed in their failed Tet Offensive of 1968 (1) and South Vietnam was rising to its feet. Thus, LBJ took the old New Deal out of the closet.

He gave new life with a series of government subsidies to the industry and placed a tariff levy on foreign manufactured goods that, eventually, threatened to create a "trade war" with the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. However, by 1970, inflation and unemployment began to stabilize and by late 1972 to go down as the B-52s pawed the advance of the ARVN towards Hanoi, which surrended by late 1973. However, by then LBJ had been replaced as Democratic nominée by George Wallace, who became the 37th President of the United States after defeating by a very narrow marging the Republican Pete McCloskey in the 1972 elections. Slowly, Wallace continued with the healing of the economy of the country, when a foreign affair dereailed his plans: the Iraqi coup d'etat of 1973.

On May 27, 1973, King Faisal II was deposed when part of the army and the Baathist Party led by Saddam Hussein rose against him. Demonstrations against Faisal commenced in 1970, rapidly intensifing in 1973, paralyzing the country. Faisal II left Iraq in exile on June 3, 1973. Hardly two months later, on July 24, Hussein was deposed and killed as guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed the Baathist troops in armed street fighting. By the end of the month, a new theocratic-republican regime replaced the old kingdom. Two months later, the Sunnis and their Shias counterparts were battling each other all over Iraq. As the civil war raged on and threatened to engulf Iran and Syria, Wallace took a fateful decision: to invade Iraq.

On September 22, 1975, just as the first Iranian soldier crossed the Iraqi border, the first B-52 bombers began to launch their payload over Bagdad.

(1) After TTL Tet Offensive, the status of the Viet Cong was similar to the state of the Army Group Center after OTL Bagration.
153. The General Elections of 1974

153. The General Elections of 1974

The so-called "Garrigues Miracle" saw the Liberal Party not only recovering the lost ground, but also achieving a majority government thanks to the internal crisis of the USD (soon to become the PSD) and the PDE, even if Lopez Rodó's party suffered the most of the two while Tierno Galván gave new life to the party even if loosing voters in the process The alliance of Basque and Catalan nationalists also suffered badly and began to loose ground, opening the way to the dissolution of the alliance in the early 1980s.

In the end, what determined the outcome of the elections was the issue of inflation, that soon became key during the campaign. Fernández Ordoñez proposed a "60-day price freeze" to cut down inflation, but Garrigues Walker soon counterattacked claiming that this policy was an intrusion on the rights of businesses to set their own prices. Ironically, ini 1975 Garrigues Walker would introduce his own prince control system, which was extended to include salaries. In spite of this, polls kept projecting that the USD would win a minority government. However, reality bit hard, as the lost fourteen seats. Another damaging factor was the poor perfomance of Fernández Ordónez in his interviews, The most damaging factor was his complete failure to explain in a meaningful way his policy to redress the Spanish economy. Bearing in mind that the Socialdemocrat candidate had a very good reputation as an economist. Nevertheless, those mistakes were to cost him the elections.

The PDE, under his new leader and full of hope, suffered a bitter defeat as it lost less than two-and-a-half percentage points in the popular vote, but lost almost half of their seats in the Cortes. It was the worst result in the party's history up until that point. They were hurt principally by the collapse of their vote in Castile-León; if they had won the popular vote and most seats in the autonomous community in the past elections, in 1974 they were almost totally wiped out there, loosing all but two of their seats and finishing a distant third behind the Liberals and Socialdemocrats. Their poor showing was blamed primarily on López Rodó, who, nevertheless, stuck to his guns and ignored the critics, even from within his own party and defied them to win a vote of no confidence. When it came the time to vote in the PDE's ranks, López Rodó received the support of 94% of the members of the party. However, the Castillian catastrophe could have been caused not by any fault of the leader of the PDE but for the massive support of the right and right-center voters to the Liberals in order to keep the Socialdemocrats out of power there.

Partido Liberal (Garrigues Walker)141/26543.15+45
Unión Socialdemócrata (Fernández Ordóñez)92/26535.46-14
Partido Demócrata Español (López Rodó)16/26515.44+15
Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Tierno Galván)11/2655.06+10
Alianza Democrática (Tarradellas)5/2650.89-5
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154. Football in Spain (1943-1965)

The Spanish League from 1943 to 1953

154. Football in Spain (1943-1965)

The history of the Spanish football changes in 1954 when the Argentinian player Alfredo Di Stefano signed a 4 year contract wtih Real Madrid C.F. Di Stéfano's first few games with them were unimpressive, even if he scored three goals in four games. Furthermore, as the Argentine champion did not adapt to European football, but imposed his own style, playing all around the field with speed and keeping the ball low on the ground, he began to have problems with the rest of the team and with his mister. Eventually, by early 1955, President Santiago Bernabéu became exasperated with the unruly player and was determined to replace him with Adolfo Pedernera. Eventually, as only F. C. Barcelona was able (or willing) to buy the expensvie player, Bernabéu accepted the offer, thinkin that he was cheatin his great rival. History would prove him wrong as Pedernera, who was 35 years old, only played ten matches with Real Madrid without scoring a goal while the "unruly" Di Stefano would become a legend in Barcelona along with his team mate Lázsló "Lazsly" Kubala.


Kubala and Di Stefano (1)
Bernabeu would also make another mistake when missed the chance to have Ferenc Puskás in his team. Thus, in 1958, Puskás (31 yearls old then), who Bernabeu considered to be "too old and too fat" (perhaps the president of Real Madrid was still smarting of the Pedernera's fiasco), would sign up for four years with Real Club Deportivo Español, where he would play until 1966.

Until 1954, the Spanish league had witnessed the rise of FC Barcelona, as the Catalan team dominated that decade, even if, towards the end of it, seemed as if Real Madrid could become a worthy rival. Then, the Bernabeu mistake ensure the primacy of FC Barcelona. just as the Basque football teams almost dissapeared from the top positions, a crisis that was extended to both Betis and Valencia, as Barcelona was joined in his bid for the primacy by the two teams from Madrid: Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid (2). And then, Di Stefano arrived to Barcelona. The 1954-1955 season was quite evenly, with Real Madrid and Barcelona fighting toe to toe for the first place until the Madrid-Barça match in Madrid, when an incredible Di Stefano broke the match with an incredible shot just five minutes before the end of the first half of the game. The match would end 2-3 for Barcelona and, from then on, the Catalan team took the lead, never to leave it, ending the season with five points more than the Real Madrid, that finished in the second place.

1955 saw the return of Athletic de Bilbao. With a seasoned team, Bilbao fought for the first position with FC Barcelona until the very end, when the last match decided that the championship would land that year in Bilbao. The same situation repeated iself the following year, but this time with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, and it ended in the same way, with Barça claiming the championship in the very last match. The next five years would see the Madrid-Barça duel reaching its high water mark in that decade, until the chain of sucess moved to Madrid and gave three championships in a row to teams of the city: one to Atlético and two to Real Madrid.

The Spanish League from 1954 to 1965
1954-1965 is proudly remembered by the followers of FC Barcelona, the so-called "culés". In those years, their team won the championsip five times and two European Cup (1957-58 and 1959-1960 against Milan and Eintracht Frankfurt), even if the defeat against Benfica (1960-1961) was a bitter pill hard to swallow, partilly compensated by the bad luck of the Real Madrid, which was also defeated by Benfica (1961-62) and by Inter de Milan (1963-64).

The rise of the Atlético and Real Madrid just when the decline of Di Stéfano started. He turned 36 in 1962 and he was not the same fast player. Di Stéfano explicitly criticized the tactics designed by Barcelona coach (ironically, his old "rival" in the blaugrana spearhead, Ladislao Kubala, who he retired as a player at 34 in 1961). The relationship between Kubala, who had the support of Presiden Enric Llaudet, and the Argentine player was already frayed. Llaudet offered Di Stéfano a place on the Barça coaching staff instead of renewing the player's contract. Di Stéfano refused Bernabéu's proposal and he moved to Real Espanyol. After 206 goals in 272 matches with Barcelona, Di Stefano would still play with Espanyol for the next two seasons, Ther, he scored 11 goals in 47 matches. When Di Stéfano played his last match on April 3, 1966, an age of the Spanish football came to its end.

(1) This photo is not the result of a cleverly done photoshop- It was taken on January 26, 1955, during a friendly match between Barça and Bolonia.
(2) I have kept most of the Spanish league as it was in that decade. I've attempt some changes, but I found little reason to change the historical development ,so I've only changed two minor things, rising Celta and Barcelona to the third position in 1946-1947 and 1949-1950 (they ended in the 4th position).
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155. First Garrigues Walker Ministry (1974-1979)

HMS Ark Royal enters the harbour of Barcelona
(Summer of 1978)

155. First Garrigues Walker Ministry (1974-1979)

In spite of his best efforts, Garrigues Walker's promised reforms had little effect on the growing rate of inflation. Even worse, his ministers kept giving him conflicting advice and solutions and contradicting each other (Eduardo Carriles - Treasury; Carlos Pérez- Industry; José Lladó - Trade); thus, on July 4, 1975, there was a cabinet reshuffle that changed little. Juan Antonio García replaced Lladó; Fernando Abril Martorell did the same with Carriles and Alberto Oliart became the new Minister of Industry. Then in September, hardly a few months later, the popular Finance Minister Fernando Abril Martorell resigned over a perceived lack of support for his measures. Even if he returned in October, and forced the introduction of wage and price controls by passing the Anti-Inflation Bill, after having promised that wages would not be controlled, the damage was done. Even worse, as the new legislation entered into conflicto with some powers traditionally carried out by the local governments, caused a political storm in Catalonia, Valencia, Navarra and the Basque Country, which was only defeated with a royal decree which upheld the legislation as an emergency measure. The measure, that gave way to a deep intervention of the state, created a long-lasting distrust among the rising neoliberal business leaders. Then, Garrigues Walker managed to win the sympathies of the most liberal sectors of the Spanish city when, on July 18, 1976, after long and emotional debate, the death penalty was completely abolished in Spain in all cases, including the military law.

The Catalan and Basque challenges, already damaged by the Anti-Inflation Bill and the confrontational attitude of the Tarradellas government. Garrigues Walker saw Tarradellas' attitude as a provocation against the government's bilingualism and constitutional initiatives, and the relation between the two leaders became soon frozen. This would go even worse when Tarradellas called for a surprise election in 1977 which led to a landslide victory by Esquerra Republica de Catalunya (ERC - Republican Left of Catalonia) led by Frederic Rahola, which was even more radical than Tarradellas, who had been removed from the leadership of ERC and replaced by Rahola in an unexpected "coup d'etat" in his party. As Rahola had promised during the electoral campaign a referendum on independence to be held within his first mandate, it was clear that the relations Madrid-Barcelona were not going to be friendly at all. The unexpected rise of the Catalan nationalism was a cold shower for the Spanish Prime Minister. His public outbursts when the topic was raised led to a growing feeling of uneasiness about Garrigues Walker, who, from 1978 onwards, began to plan with more care and less anger his moves towards Catalonia. His popularity would suffer even more when he had to introduce several spending cuts to quell the large deficit of the country.

IIn foreign relations, Garrigues Walker was in no better positions, as a series of trade disputes with France, the United Kingdom and Canada damaged not only the international standing of Spain but also its economy. However, from 1978 onwards, the critical situation of the Spanish economy led to an improvement of the relations with London and Ottawa (while the Paris-Madrid axis became almost non-existent) and Spain more than ever welcomed British investments just as inflation and unemployment skyrocketed in the late 1970s. Garrigues Walker was to be heavily criticised by what was perceived as his "lackey" attitude towards the United Kingdom, and he was termed the "yes-of-course-man" for his too friendly attitude towards the British Prime Minister, the Liberal Margaret Thatcher. However, the British help had a price: Spain had to swallow hard austerity programs to get their finances in order. Even if by 1979 both inflation and unemployment began to recede, showing the success of Garrigues Walker policies, the Spanish population was quite angered with his government. Even if the inflation rate went down from 16.68% (December 1978) to 9.76%. (April 1979) and unemployment went down from 8.7% (September 1978) to 7.3% (March 1979), Spain suffered two General Strikes (1976 and 1979), the first strikes since the November Revolution. However, the recovery of the economy seemed to cool down the popular anger.

It was then when Garrigues Walker gambled and called for new elections.
156. The General Elections of 1979

156. The General Elections of 1979

What determined the result of the General Elections of 1979 was the recovery of the Spanish economy. Suddenly, all the ills and pains were forgotten and a thing of the past. This was felt in the first electoral surveys published in the press. As the Socialist party plummeted in the surveys due to their vicious criticism of the government, López Rodó and Fernández Ordoñez changed at once their strategies. First, they reduced their attacks against Garrigues Walker's cabinet and began to place more emphasis in their own alternatives to the Liberal government. Only Tierno Galván remained unmoved aobut the press. In the end, he and his party paid dearly for the mistake.

Then Fernández Ordoñez made a mistake by anouncing that, if he government, he would rise the taxes to reduce the government's deficit. It was something that the voters did not want to hear about. In the end, it gave a small advantage to Garrigues Walker, big enough, however, for the Liberals to win the elections, winning 6 more seats than in the 1974 election. That enabled the Liberals to form a majority government.

Fernández Ordoñez's Socialdemocrats had campaigned under the slogan, "A real change deserves a fair chance" saw themselves without a chance bu, with the change in the parlamentarian system, they won two more seats than the Liberals. It was good, but not enough. His mistakes were to cost him dearly: he would be replaced by Josep Borrell seven months later.

The wrong strategy of Tierno Galvado caused the virtual annhilation of the PSOE in the Cortes. However, when he presented his resignation after blaming himself for the less, it was refused at once. The Socialist representatives and the Socialist voters stil trusted Tierno in spite of the catastrophe. Thus, he would try again in 1984.

The elections of 1979 were the first with the new Cortes (from 265 seats to 282) and the Senado (from 170 seats to 105). It was an attempt aimed at better representing the nation while reducing the costs of the Parliament. However, both in Catalonia and the Basque Country the change was seen as an attempt to reduce their presence in the Cortes. Thus, when the nationalist Alianza Democrática vanished from the Spanish parliament after the elections of 1979, it placed into motion a process of change that would shake the country in a way unknown since the Revolution of November.

Partido Liberal (Garrigues Walker)147/28244.34+6
Unión Socialdemócrata (Fernández Ordóñez)103/28232.45+8
Partido Demócrata Español (López Rodó)32/28219.77+16
Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Tierno Galván)0/2822.50
Alianza Democrática (Tarradellas)0/2821,1-5
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157. Second Garrigues Walker Ministry (1979-1984)

The Spain national team that won the European championship of 1984
by defeating France (2-0)

157. Second Garrigues Walker Ministry (1979-1984)

The second tenure of Garrigues Walker was marked by his reforms and the troubled relations with Catalonia and the Basque Country. To this troubles, we mus also the two government shuffles (August 1982 and September 1983), a rare thing in Spanish politics, but a recurrent feature from then on. Until then, the ministers had never resigned or been replaced in block. Thus, Garrigues Walker opened a new age in The one thing that saved the prime minister from utter collapse by late 1983 was its uncanny popularity. Since he made an incredible recovery from a bout of leukemia, Garrigues Walker became the darling of the Spanish public opinion. especially young women. Eventually, his illness would forcing out of politics and he would not look reelection in 1984 due to this fact, dying a few weeks after the Genereal Elections of that year.

In spite of his frail health, he fought vigorously to push his reforms forward and battled with all his might the Nationalist offensive. His dream of making Spain a "Free and Just Society" gave him unexpected strength, thus reinforcing his popular support. He also battled hard to expand the newly implemented universal health care and regional development programmes. His popularity rose to new hights when he visited Barcelona in September 1981, during the celebration of the National Day of Catalonia, the Diada (September 11) , somethig that was perceived as a provocation by the Catalan nationalists. Thus, when he moved forward to offer the traditional wreat to the monument of Rafael de Casanovas, he received a hard welcome, that included some bottles being thrown at him by some radical members of the Youth wing of ERC. However, Garrigues Walker refused any protection or to let someone else to carry ot the offering and did it himself, something that was, later that day, praised even by his political rivals both from the Left and the Catalan side.

One his worst mistakes was to stall the Bilingual Reform that would have made Basque, Catalan and Galician the co-equal official languages of the federal government. His intention was to force the Basque and Catalan politicians to stand down in his blockade of Garrigues Walker's attempt reform of the regional governments to reinforce the powers of the national government. This only helped to worsen the relations with Catalonia and the Basque Country which were non-existent by late 1981. Even if he reversed his policy and pushed for the Reform in 1983, the damage was already done. Furthermore, he was viciously attacked by the Lopez Rodó and the Conservative as they claimed that his reform would put in disavantage the Castilian speakers in those regions. Furthermore, even if inflation was kept below 10% by the beginning of 1980, unemployment rose from 7.3% (March 1979) to 9.5% (March 1981). Unemployment was particularly bad in the north of Spain, mainly in the closing naval yards of Galicia, where nearly 20% of the adult population was out of work. Over the spring and summer of 1981, a wave of rioting broke out in that area, which came close to force Garrigues Walker to declare a state of emergency and deploy the army in an attempt to enforce order. Even if in the end this was not necesary, those were the darkest days of the second tenure of the Spanish prime minister. The winter of 1981-82 was a gloomy one in the UK: dominated by industrial unrest and government failures, it soon came to be known as the ‘Winter of Discontent.’ Thus would result in the cabinet shuffle of August 1982, when the ministers of Trade (Juan Antonio García Díez), Employment (Rafael Calvo Ortega) and Environment (José Enrique Martínez Genique) were fired by the prime minister. On June 1, 1983, the Spanish passed the "Ley para la Reforma Militar" (Military Reform Bill 1982). By 1983, the armed forces were to be transformed into a professional army without conscripts and the number of land troops was to be cut from the then standing of 400,000 to 150,000.

The big failure of Garrigues Walker's second tenure was caused by his pragmatic approach to foreign politics. After the ultra-conservative wave that had enfulged South America in the eraly 70s that exploded in the Chilean coup d'etat of 1973, followed, three years later, by the Argentinian military takeover of 1976, Spain turned his back to those authoritarian regimes, in line with the British attitude, that hardened its stance towards these two countries and with South Africa after the bloody reprisals against the Durban strikes of 1973 and the Soweto Students Uprising of 1976, along with the misterious deaths of Steven Biko and Nelson Mandela. As Madrid moved closer to London and disregarded the diplomatic solutions proposed by the old members of the almost defunct Mancomunidad Hispana, the Spanish diplomatic relations with Latin America reached its lowest point since 1812, which would sink even more after Garrigues Walker supported Great Britain during the Falklands War (1983). The cabinet shuffle of September 1983, which included the first female minister in the history of Spain, saw three changes in Labour, Industry and Culture and the new faces of Santiago Rodríguez-Miranda, gnacio Bayón and Soledad Becerril. A few weeks later, the Decreto de Emergencia (Emergency Law) was passed on November 27. It gave the government the powers to implement by decree the measures necessary to stop hyperinflation. Then, on December 20, as it was expected, the new leader of the PDE, Jorge Vestrynge, presented a motion of no confidence against the cabinet. Even if it failed, as it was expected, it damaged the standing of Garrigues Walker for the incomming elections of 1984.

To counter this, the government launched a wide range of progressive social reforms in the last bit of 1983. For instance, Joaquín Ruiz-Giménez was appointed Ombudsman, the first one in holding this office in Spain (1982-1987). Then, the Organic Law 9/1984 adopted on January 5, 1984, induced abortion was legalized in three cases: serious risk to physical or mental health of the pregnant woman, rape and malformations or defects, physical or mental, in the fetus. Eventually, abortion laws were further liberalized in 1995, to allow abortion on demand during the first trimester. Also, the Youth Welfare Act of 1984 obliged all municipalities and states to set up youth offices in charge of child protection, and also codified a right to education for all children. In 1984 a housing construction program was approved that, between 1984 and 1991, was to lead to the construction of over 2 million new homes and a further 195,000 modernised.
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158. The General Elections of 1984

158. The General Elections of 1984

The withdrawal from politics of Garrigues Walker plunged the Liberal Party into a crisis. When Óscar Alzaga was proposed as the new Liberal leader, it caused a split in the party as the social-liberal faction of the party lead by Adolfo Suárez left the party in protest for the conservative turn that Alzaga meant, creating a new party called Unión Social Centrista (USC - Center Social Union) which had a very short life (1984-1989). Thus, with Alzaga as its new leader, the Liberal Party underwent a series of immediate changes in an attempt to rebuild the Liberals' struggling reputation. However, the Liberal Party had lost favour with Catalan voters, and the latter developments had only worsened this process. Alzaga's Catalan tour was an attempt to rebuild support in that region, but it failed in an spectacular way, as the Liberals held only one seat for Catalonia.

However, the Catalan (and Basque) disaffection did not mean a rise in voters for the USD. Fernández Ordoñez was hardly a charismatic leader and his campaign was no better. Thus, a great number of voters in those regions remained at home on election day, as it also happened in Andalucia and Aragon. When Alzaga reacted by trying to court moderate Catalan and Basque nationalists, it only succeeded in damaging his popular standing. Thus, Jorge Verstrynge's moderate program found wide support from the very beginning of the electoral campaign, as the polls reflected. To the surprise of many, the Progressive-Conservative party (that is, the new name of the former PDE) rose to become the second party of the country (at least on paper) as the Liberals plummeted and the USD hardly stood their ground. Soon it became a race between Verstrynge and Fernández Ordoñez as Alzaga was sidelined even by the press.

However, Fernandez Ordoñez made several prominent gaffes and began to sound patronizing for many Leftish voters. Even more when he blamed the unemployed for losing their jobs, the USD began to lose steam fast in the polls, giving a chance to Alzaga to recover a lot of the ground lost. However, when the press published that Abril Martorell, the Treasury Ministry, had "gifted" the UGT trade union with 10 million pesetas, the scandal crushed Alzaga's chances. Thus, Alzaga's inability to overcome the alleged mistakes of his predecessor, combined with his own mistakes and the Abril Martorell scandal, resulted in a debacle for the Liberals. They lost over a third of their popular vote from 1979, falling from 44 percent to 28 percent. Their seat count fell from 147 (135 after the split) to barely 50, the worst defeat of a sitting government in Spanish history at the time.

On his part, Verstrynge made a fine use of his enemy's mistakes and won even more votes by denouncing alleged corruption in the Liberal government, which resulted in a major windfall for Alzaga, as we have seen. Thus, the Progressive-Conservative had its better result in history when they won 181 seats. They won both a majority of seats and the popular vote in every region, thanks to the low participation. However, the Progressive-Conservative remained a minor force in both Catalonia and the Basque Country. This result was favoured by an unexpected event: the utter disaster of the USD, which fell down to 30 seats.

Meanwhile, the return of Alianza Democrática, now under the leadership of Miquel Roca, which entered the Cortes with 20 seats, spelt hard times for the government while it's "Progressive-Conservative" stance would be the source of endless jokes and witticisms in the press and in the streets.

Partido Demócrata Español (Versytrnge)181/24245.03+149
Partido Liberal (Garrigues Walker)50/28228.02-97
Unión Socialdemócrata (Fernández Ordóñez)30/28218.81-73
Alianza Democrática (Tarradellas)20/2827,50+20
Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Tierno Galván)1/2820.9+1
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158. First Verstrynge Ministry (1984-1988)

Prime Minister Verstrynge and his Anglophile
Foreign Minister, Manuel Fraga.

158. First Verstrynge Ministry (1984-1988)

The Conservative impressive victory seemed to give Verstrynge a very formidable position, even more if we keep in mind the small role played by the Conservatives in their several “reincarnations” since the 1920s. On paper, Verstrynge‘s position was such that he could lead Spain in the way he wanted. However, in real terms, his power relied on a shaky alliance that was only united by their common will to recover Spain from the hands of the Liberal and the Left parties. In fact, in spite of naming itself Progressive-Conservative Party, the PCP was de facto a loose federation that amalgamated Right wing Reformists like Manuel Fraga, Center-right liberal like Juan Antonio Samaranch (1), Francisco Queipo de Llano y Acuña (2), Carlos Larrañaga (3), Fernando Dancausa (4). It’s Navarrese and Catalan sections, led by José Ignacio Palacios Zuasti and Manuel Millán Mestre, were highly critical towards Verstrynge (and the PCP)’s policies towards the Basque Country, Galicia, Catalonia and Navarre and, eventually, Millán Mestre would break with the party in 1989 (5). Furthemore, he was pressured by the Catalan politicians (like Miquel Roca) and businessmen (Iike Jordi Pujol) that, even if not formally allied with the PCP, had campaigned for the party in Catalonia.

Aware of the support he had received in the two Castiles and Extremadura had been critical for his electoral victory, he appealed to those regions for more support with the Programa Nacional de Reformas de 1986 (PNE’86 – National Reform Program of 1986), which included a huge investment in the infrastructure of those regions and included some politicians from those regions in his cabinet. However, his success was not as big as he expected as the Liberals had a large majority in the Senate due to his long tenure in power and, in addition to this, his ministers had little government experience, which resulted in a series of embarrassing conflicts of interest that led to several scandals. Many Spanish businessmen expected patronage from the government once the Conservatives were again in power, and Verstrynge was, without a shred of doubt, aware of this. Thus, he and his ministers made several mistakes related with that patronage that found wide coverage by the national press.

He also came under fire when his vaunted anti-deficit policies backfired, when, in his first term, the annual deficit increased 20% (1984-1989). Also, his bad relations with the Generalitat and his criticism of the cultural policies of the Catalan government also helped to greatly incense not only the Catalan nationalists but even the more moderate Catalan voters. This was sorely noted by the PCP when, in the Catalan elections of 1988, his seats in the Catalan Parliament went from 14 that the party won in 1984 to barely 5. When he pushed ahead in 1986 with his great electoral promise, a Constitutional reform to reduce the power of the local governments in 1986, he saw his way blocked by the stern refusal of the Catalan, Basque, Navarrese, Galician, Andalusian and Valencian governments to even discuss the topic. As the issue stalled in the Cortes and the PCP suffered heavily in the local elections which took place from 1986 to 1988, Verstrynge saw his hand forced and, eventually, he agreed to devolve some powers in 1987 and to recognize the “special” state of Basque, Galician and Catalans within Spain. However, the opposition of the more conservative wings of the PCP and the Liberals saw this reform frozen until 1992 and sparked a revival of Catalan and Basque separatism.

His program of privatization of several public corporations and agencies led to the bigger wave of strikes (from 1986 to 1989) that Spain had seen since the 1920s. SEAT (6), ENASA (7) and Trasatlántica (8) y Viajes Marsans (9) were the big names of that privatization policy that gave 2,000,000 million pesetas to the State. This program included non-profitable and profitable companies as well, and it was perceived as a mere program to collect money for the State. Even if Verstrynge stated over and over again that this measure was needed to fight the huge national deficit, his statements found little support and only angered more the already furious strikers. This privatization policy was mingled by a botched attempt to issue environmental protection laws that damaged the standing of the Spanish “Green” ideas as they were linked to the destruction of jobs that took place with the privatization all around Spain, even if this resulted in the Ley de Protección Medioambiental de 1987 (Environmental Protection Act 1987)

In foreign matters, Verstrynge placed his government at odd with both the United Kingdom and the United States in their foreign policy towards Africa, Asia and Central America (which he termed as “old-fashioned colonialism”), but this won him international respect and he joined Brian Mulroney’s relief program for Ethiopia in response to the 1984 famine. His trade negotiations with No 10 put him in a difficult position as the Liberals blocked the Anglo-Spanish Trade Agreement of 1986, which would become a capital issue in the electoral campaign of 1988. Ironically, Verstrynge found two staunch supporters in the Basque and Catalan presidents, the Socialist Lehendakari, Ramón Jauregi, and the Catalan Conservative Liberal President, Macià Alavedra, who supported Verstrynge as their regions were to reap huge benefits from the agreement.

1 OTL Spanish sport administrator under Franco (1973-1977) and the 7th President of the International Olympic Committee (1980-2001)
2 OTL Francoist governor of Palencia (1964-1966) and Navarre (1966-1969)
3 OTL An Spanish actor that, somehow, became part of OTL PCP
4 OTL Major of Burgos (1965-1973) and member of the Francoist Cortes (1960-1977)
5 IOTL 2014, Millán Mestre said in an interview that he regretted his time in the PP, and blamed the Populars for all the political ills of Spain and their anti-Catalan strategies. Keep in mind, though, that Millán Mestre is hardly a Catalan nationalist politician.
(6) IOTL a Spanish state owned industrial holding company that became the largest supplier of cars in Spain. In 1986 it was sold to the German Volskwagen group by the PSOE.
(7) IOTL a Spanish vehicle manufacturing company controlled by the state which was sold to IVECO by the PSOE in 1990
(8) IOTL The Compañía Transatlántica Española SA, also known as the Spanish Line in English, was an ocean line company that was privatized by the PSOE in 1994. It must be said that this company was hardly a shadow of its former shelf.
(9) IOTL a very important consortium dedicated to tour operations which was privatized in 1985.
159. The Death of a Giant: China (1970-1985)

159. The Death of a Giant: China (1970-1985)

The Tet Offensive of 1970 (January-March) changed the course of the war, but not as Chiang Kai-shek had hoped. More than 80,000 PAVN/VC troops struck more than 100 towns and cities, including 36 of 44 provincial capitals, five of the six autonomous cities, 72 of 245 district towns, and the southern capital. The offensive was the largest military operation conducted by either side up to that point in the war. Hanoi had launched the offensive in the belief that it would trigger a popular uprising leading to the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. Although the initial attacks stunned the allies and even took control of several cities temporarily, the popular uprisisng did not took place and the ARVN/US forces beat back the attacks, and inflicted heavy casualties on PAVN/VC forces. Both sides were shocked, as both Washington, Hanoi and Peking believed that their rivals were on the brink of defeat. Thus, when the United States sought negotiations to end the war, Chiang pressed Lê Duẩn to negotiate. The North Vietnamese premier was also worried by the dwindling support of the Communist block and feared that China would abandon him. Thus, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. The resulting Paris Peace Accords took three years of hard negotiations that ended on January 27, 1973. One of its main consequences were the Cambodian civil war (1973-1978), which ended with the victory of the Khmer Rouge and the rise of an US-sponsored anticommunist guerrilla. Initially, President Reagan attempted to work with the anti-Communist forces in 1979 and 1980, but it would not be until 1981 when an anti-Communist movement began to be formed along the border with Sotuh Vietnam. Many of the initial Contras were former members of the Sihanouk regime and many were still loyal to him, who was living in exile in France. It would be the beginning of a long war that would last to 1985, until the Bangok Peace Agreement, an initiative in the mid-1980s to settle the military conflicts that had plagued Birmania, Laos and Cambodia for many years and which would lead to the first free democratic elections in Cambodia, which took place in 1990.

Chiang Kai shek would not live to see that. His death (April 5 1975) was the cause of a great instability in China as his sucessor, his son Chiang Ching kuo proved to be unable to keep the reigns of power in his hands and was eventually forced to open a process of democratization of the country that led to the first elections of 1977, which were won by the Socialist Party led by Hu Cheng. It was to be a short-lived democracy. As the economy was still stagnant in the summer of 1978 and most of the economic reforms were being blocked by the Right-Center coalition led by Chen Cheng, who was afraid of any leftwards movements, which led to riots in the streets as the Armed Forces lost fast their trust in Cheng, as well as a great part of the Chinese population. The new Constitution of 1979 implemente the federalization of China and the Socialist government began to talk a program of economic reform when the tanks rolled onto the streets of Beijing and the main Chinese cities on June 25, 1979. It was a surprise to no one, but for, of course, Cheng and his government. The military coup led by Admiral Song Chang-chih took control of the Beijing after and after a week of confuse combats that left thousands dead. By autumn, it was over. Song had secured the country but, to the surprise of many, his seizure of power was not followed by mass murders, mass flights and no mass atrocities. In fact there were only a few hundred extrajudicial murders as the opposition, who had made a superb show of discipline during the electoral campaign, melted, quite understably, in the face of tanks and airplanes. On June 28, Song appeared on the television in a message broadcasted to the nation, announcing the formation of a civilian caretaker government and the drafting of a new constitution would be drafted. Order would be kept by the Armed Forces. There was not a single word refering to new elections.

The "caretaker government" would remain in place until 1985. It was led by Hsu Ching-chung and had to rule a country which underwent a severe economic depression, broken consensus, a somewhat placated but still wary military watching over him, and a population that was alternately traumatized, depressed and angry Russia and India still kept troops in high readiness at the borders. Hsu's legacy is seen today as very mixed and complex one: even if he remained silent about the coup and the excesses that followed, he revived democracy with the 1980 general election -even if tehre were no Left parties and the main parlamentarian force was the Kuomintang-. He gradully worked for a democratization of China, pushing for younger and more loyal officers rising up the ladder. The 1980 Constitution turned China into a semiunicameral parliamentary republic with a Prime Minister with ample powers that needed to be approved of by an elected Congress. Plenty of freedoms were recognized, but the Prime Minister had to power of suspending them all by decree. All political parties going against "national values” were banned.

As the 80's went on, China was more and more isolated, even if diplomatic relations with Britain and began to warm up in 1982 and with the United States in 1984, who gave Hsu the weaponry and the technology to modernize the Armed Forces and to keep the top ranks quiet while he replaced the older generals with younger, less politically motivated and more professional men. In spite of this success, Hsu was despised by the Chinese population, who saw his as the illegitimate leader of an illegitimate regime.
160. News of the World (1975-1985): Russia

Yuri Andropov.
He would change Russian politics
even if he never went to a polling station.

160. News of the World (1975-1985): Russia

Under the first tenure of Prime Minister Vasili Vasilyevich Kuznetsov (until March 20, 1979) the health insurance was extended to citizens over the age of 65 in receipt of a social pension (June, 1976). He also separated the Orthodox Church from the state, made religious instruction in public schools optional, and had the Patriarch of Moscow to accept Russia's divorce law, in March 1977 and had the legalization of abortion passed in May 1978. Furthermore, he became the first Russian Prime Minister to visit the United States when he landed in Washington in 1977. In the return trip, he visited also London, Paris and Berlin and he opened and developed diplomatic and economic relationships with Arab countries of the Mediterranean Basin, and supported business and trade between Russia and Italy, even if he was known as a staunch anti-communist. His hardest time as Prime Minister came in late 1978 and early 1979. He pushed for a wide reform of the agricultural sector, a rise in industrial wages and to extend family allowances to agricultural part-time workers. When he met a determined opposistion by the most conservative wing of the Liberal Party, Kuznetsov resigned on March 20, 1979, just as the Russian economic crisis, ongoing since 1977, reached its peak.

He would be back to power hardly in time to witness the defeat of the Liberal party in the elections of April 1980, which lost the majority it had enjoyed since 1968. A Center Left coalition rose to power. Then, Russia was shocked by a terrorist bombing of the Kiev Central Station on the morning of August, 2 1980, which killed 185 people and wounded more than 300. The attack was attributed to the fascist ultranationalist terrorist organization Pamyat (Memory Society), which always denied any involvement. In any case, the Russian security forces launched a wild search operation that ended with more than 300 people arrested. The government announced that the Pamyat had been finished and his leaders were to feel the weight of the Russian law. All in all during the so-called "Saint Petersburg trials" (November 23-December 5, 1981) four terrorists were sentenced to life imprisonment for murder; thirteen received a life sentence, and four more were sent to Siberia with his thirteen comrades but only for ten years. No one of those four lived enough to finish half of their sentence. The "Saint Petersburg trials" were to make Kuznetsov a quite popular figure and, had he called for new elections, there is no doubt he would have won them with ease. However, he didn't do it and, hardly six months later, his government crashed down.

During his previous term, there had been rumours that the Liberal party had been using funds for its electoral campaign that had "dirty" origins. However, nothing ever came out of it until June 12, 1982, when the International Kommerscheskii Bank (IKB) collapsed and a journalist that was investigating the case, Mijail Petresvkii, was murdered. Soon the scanl went nationwide as it was discovered that, through the IKB, the industrialist Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov had been bribing prominent journalists, members of the Liberal Party and even the head of the intelligence services of the Moscow Police. Even if Kuznetsov was not directly affected by the "Andropov affair", he resigned on August 23, 1983. The new elections meant a terrible defeat for the Liberal Party -it would not win an electoral contest until 2001- and gave room for the constituion of a coalition made up by the Christian Democrats, the Socialists, the Social Democrats and the Republicans, with the Christian Democrat Nikolai Yesenin as the new prime minister. In his first adress to the country, he pledged to fight corruption and mounting terrorist violence. In foreign policy, he turned away from the pro-British stance of his predecessor and embraced a mildly Americanism, while shifting away from the previous pro-Arab policy.

In December 1983 Yesnin got rid of his Republican ministers in a cabinet reshuffle and broke with the Republican party. He then separated the Bank of Russian from the Treasury, but in August, in an unexpected turn of events, Yesnin offered the Liberals to join the government. This meant that the Socialists and Social Democrats broke with the Cristiand Democrats, and, recovering their alliance with the Republicans, formed a minority government under the Social Democratic Konstantin Bryusov. With him, Russia enjoyed a time of stability at all levels until 1985. Bryusov began by making amends with the Orthodox Church (The Palm Sunday Agreement of 1984), and, once Russia recovered from the last economic crisis, he led the economic reform that help Russia to become fifth largest industrial nation and to gain entry into the G7 Group of most industrialised nations, even if at the cost of having an inflation in the double digits and the trade union on the warpath by early 1985, the Bruysov government reacted by establishing an strict wage and prices control and this measure did help reduce inflation, which was also falling in other major countries, but it also led to increased industrial unrest and strikes towards the end of 1985. A number of reforms were initiated during Yesnin's tim were introduced, mainly in the field of family welfare, which were to receive larger amounts and coverage the lower their incomes were.

Thus, in spite of the strikes and the rising inflation, Bryusov managed to govern until 1987, when he called for new elections.
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161. News of the World (1975-1985): Germany

Kohl's secret weapon in international affairs:
“Die Mannschaft”

161. News of the World (1975-1985): Germany

In spite of his best efforts, Brandt would be defeated by Helmuth Kohl,who formed a CDU/CSU-FDP coalition cabine . This coalition would not only win in 1975, but also in 1979. This success, though, would have a high cost on the coalition, that, due to Kohl's leadership, would break by the early 1980s. Kohl, during his two tenures, pushed through several controversial plans, including the remewed millitary alliance with the United Kingdom, which caused major opposition from the peace movement, specially when it seemed that German troops would have to be deployed in Puerto Rico during the crisis of 1979.

Kohl wold develop a close political relationship with the French Prime Minister, Jean Lecanuet, which would settle the good Franco-German relationship in the following decade but Kohl were to prove even more successful in his relations with his Russian counterpart, Konstantin Bryusov, which helped to heal the damage done by the two World Wars. Together Kohl and Bryusov would laid the foundations for a short-lived European cooperation, like the Eureka project, a research and development network of national funding ministries and agencies to fund and support collaborative international projects. Also in the international relations, Kohl joined the Libereal British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, in the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the beginning of World War One in 1979 and the 40th of the beginning of World War Two in 1980, an opportunity to show to the world the strength of the Anglo-German friendship, which was reinforced when they were joined by Bruysov for the commemoration of the last conflict. Kohl's chancellorship is remembered today by his extensions in unemployment benefit for older and young claimants, for the introduction of 10 Bn DM package of Erziehungsgeld (childcare allowance), the early retirement scheme of 1980. and by the tax reforms of 1981. and the early retirement scheme of 1982. was introduced that offered incentives to employers to replace elderly workers with applicants off the unemployment register. However, his time was not devoid of some controversy, as, for instance, when student aid was made reimbursable to the state.

However, the inner strife within the CDU-CSU betwwen Kohl and the Minister President of Bavaria, Franz-Josef Strauss, were to lead to the breaking up of the coalition and its defeat in the 1982 elections. The victory of the Social Democrat Helmut Schmidt by a slandslide was soon marred by Schmidt's reduction of public spending. His attempt to "modernize" Germany was well received, but it was not enough to defeat the unrest caused by the "social cuts". However, his moderate success in reducing unemployment, along with the fiscal measures introduced after 1984, with reductions in income and wealth taxes and an increase in the medium-term public investment programme, with created 300,000 additional jobs in 1984-1985, helped to keep high the standing of the SPD leader, even if this small success was achieved at the cost of a larger budget deficit (which rose from 31.2 billion DM to 75.7 billion DM in 1984), brought about by fiscal expansion.

Schmidt, though, would be best remembered by his unguarded remarks about the Italian crisis that led to the downfall of the Communist regime. After the death of Fausto Guilo in 1979, the fate of Italy had been led by Alessandro Natta. After the failure of the promised reform of the state and the faking of results of the first local government elections in 1982, an exodus of Italian to Austria and France followed in May 1983. Between then on June, 25,000 Italians had crossed into Austria, claiming asylum in the German and the British embassies in Vienna. Then, Schmidt was asked by a reporter about the situation of the Italian refugees and the German Chancellor "One must recognize that it won't do any good to his country that its citizens, instead of doing their best to reform their nation from within, decide to fled abroad". The lack of reaction of Natta towards the exodus showed how the Italian goverment were not only out of touch with reality, but also its loss of power. Soon leaflets inviting Italians to travel to Austria or France were seen all over Italy. Even if Natta claimed that he would completely lock the borders of the country, he never dared to do so.

Many Italians demonstrated against the ruling party, especially in Turin and Firenze, which gathered 300,000 protesters by the end of July. This eventually forced the resignation of Natta in December and he was replaced by Enrico Berlinguer. In January 1984, Italy had their first free elections, which were won by Ciriaco De Mita's Christian Democratic Union. Then, by a two-thirds vote in the Camera di Popolo (April 23, 1985), the Italian Socialist Republic was dissolved and replaced by the Repubblica Italana (Italian _Republic). By October of that year, none of the former allies of the RSI were still Communist countries. The Communist block had dissolved itself in the polling stations.
162. News of the World (1975-1985): France

162. News of the World (1975-1985): France

Miterrand's woes were replaced by the bright times of the Reformist Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, who won the elections of 1976 just as the Conservative party divided itself after the death of its leaders, George Pompidou, and the inner strife to succeed him. Even if Jacques Chirac was anointed as Pompidou's heir, the bickering between the factions of the party caused a terrible impression among the French voters and propelled Servan-Scheriber to victory with a minority government that he turned a majority one after his impressive victory in the elections of 1978 and 1982. A rich press lord, Servan-Schreiber had entered politics in 1969 just as Murville thrown the Conservative party into disarray and the Conservative party divided itself into Giscard D'Estaing, Jacques Chirac and Jacques Massu, factions (eventually, Massu would leave the party and create the UDF ( Union pour la démocratie française - Union for French Democracy). However, Massu was only popular in metropolitan Paris, while outside the big city he was seen as an upstart. In this situation, gGrowing disenchanted with the chaotic situation, Servan-Schreiber left the party after the defeat in the polls and to create the Reformist Party in 1971. From then on, he built himself a name and gave France a new hope for the future.

Thus, with him France reached a special moment of stability. The Reformist party offered a solid bloc in the complicated French politics. A former businessman and with a degree from the École polytechnique, France's top engineering school, Servan-Schreiber became a likeable figure and safe bet after the upheavals of the previous cabinets. But, being sincere, most of his success as prime minister of France was due to the unexpected and huge improvement of the French economy in the 1980s. From 1977 onwards France underwent a spending boom which created a buoyant economy. Prices and wages began to rise rapidly, fueled in part by credit payment and other forms of loan-spending, which became very popular among the French population. France was flooded with cars, new whomes, new goods and colour televisions. The "Roaring Eighties" had been created by the rise of women to employment, the expansion of the education system and the new technologies, all the work of the previous government that now Servan-Schreiber simply reaped. As it was later stated by his main biographer, Jean Effel (1), the main quality of Servan-Schreiber was "just being in the right place at the right moment". This is perhaps a harsh judgement of Servan-Schreiber's tenure, which saw a series of reforms from 1979 to 1983 which removed restrictions on the French finance industries and turned Paris into a major financial hub. This age also marked the beginning of a cultural boom, as French cinema, music, and fashion broke with their grey past during the post-war years and broke into the world, leaving an enduring memory. The 1980s were, clearly, the French decade.

Servan-Schreiber years are not, of course, without controversy. Just as the world went on and the Communist bloc faded into oblivion, France relished on its "Splendid Isolationism". The United States, the main sponsor of the French economy, gradually withdrew its support as Rome stopped being a threat just when Servan-Scheriber began a massive military expansion with the aim of having a fleet bigger than the Royal Navy. As Washington grew uninterested in pulling its own international weight and economy behind France, Paris was left on its own. This, however, would not be felt during Servan-Schreiber's tenure. It would be up to the following governments to deal with it as the French prime minister went on with his policy of "doing little or nothing, if possible".

(1) TTL has some humorous turns on OTL characters, you know.
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163. News of the World (1975-1985): United Kingdom

Neil Kinnock, the (short-lived) great Labourist hope

163. News of the World (1975-1985): United Kingdom

With a tiny majority, Margaret Thatcher attempted to do as much a possible. However, the personality of the British Prime Minister was to cause her more troubles that the ecoonomic problems of the time. Her cuts in taxation, in publish spending and in social services and education were to be the source of the problems she faced. Initially, it seemed as she was moving in the right direction and, by the end of 1977, the United Kigdom overcame the recession and left the stark crisis behind, at least in theory. However, her own economic policy proved to be her Achilles' heel as the economic recovery proved to be just a mirage by July 1978. When inflation peaked at 22% in 1979, Thatcher found herself battling not only the Trade Unions but also the Bank of England, as it director used the crisis to try to get rid of either all or a big part of the government control over the institution. Thatcher reacted to that inj March 1979 by seizing control of interest rates to aggressively attack inflation. However, this had a dangerous side effect: rising unemployment.

By the beginning of 1980 inflation had dropped below 7.5% just has unemployment rose from 5.5% to 8.75%, a lovel not seen since the late 1930s. This lead a a wave of strikes and riots. Then Thatcher declared a state of emergency in the United Kingdom and claimed that she was ready to deploy the army if needed. With the country paralyzed during that winter and with the economy in tatters, Thatcher's inflexible attitude proved to be the last nail in the Liberal coffin. With the Liberals close to rebellion as they tried to get themselves free from Thatcher, who was unwilling to neither admit defeat nor to go quietly, it was just up to the Labour party under the erratic direction of Michael Foot to defeat the Tories of John Biffen. Biffen, in spite of the support received from Ruppert Murdoch, proved himself unable to reap the benefits of the Liberal crisis, but his blunt speeches alieneated many voters. His position was only made worse when, during one of his blunt public calls for greater moderation in government policy, he warned the country to prepare for "three years of unparalleled austerity". Thus, the most unlikely candidate to Prime Minister ever, Michael Foot, won the race to Downing Street in 1981.

Foot had a hard start when South Africa left the Commonwealth. Since the Rhodesian crisis, Pretoria had kept a low profile under P. W. Botha. Die Groot Krokodil had, apparently, adopted a more conociliatory policy. However, while his government had made some steps towards political reform, their human right abuses when dealing with the internal unrest had exausted any foreign sympathy that South Africa could stil had by that time. In fact, Botha undertook some superficial changes to apartheid practices, but they we went too far for a group of NP hardliners, led by former Education Minister Andries Treurnicht, while not even beginning to meet the demands of the opposition. In the face of rising discontent and violence, Botha froze the reforms and imposed greater security measures against anti-apartheid activists. Then after Botha's defiance of the British warnings, On March 29, 1982, Foot threatened Pretoria with the imposition of economic sanctions if Botha did not end the brutal apartheid system. On May 1st, Botha threatened with leaving the Commonwealth and announced a vote on it in the South African parliament, reduced to the white-only House of Assembly after the House of Representatives for Coloureds and the House of Delegates for Indians had been called off after the reform process had been shelved by Botha. Thus, on August 14, 1982, South Africa walked out of the Commonwealth.

Meanwhile, at home, Foot struggled hard to keep the British economy alive. The Prime Minister was willing to reverse Thatcher's policy and some of his cuts were reversed in 1981, but Foot had not time to fully implement his "revolutionary" reform as he suffered an attack of shingles (heavier than the one of 1976) that left him blind in late May 1982 and forced him to withdraw from politics. His replacement, after the unexpected demise of Neil Kinnock in a car crash, was William "Bill" Rodgers, who wasted no time to put Roy Jenkins and Peter Shore at the head of the Foreign Office and Trade and Industry, respectively. They were to be Rodgers' battlehorses. Thus, from then on, until the elections of 1986, the Labour government did reverse most of the Thatcher-era cuts were rolled back, too, following the path set by Foot, with most of the workd carried out between 1983 and 1984, just as the economy recovered and the Communist block disappeared and new markets and new opportunities appeared in the former Communist countries.
164. News of the World (1975-1985): the United States

164. News of the World (1975-1985): the United States

Eleven days of B-52's raids created such a devastation in Iraq that it was believed that the country, torn by a vicious civil war, would surrendered in a matter of a few days. When Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, narrowly avoided being assasinated by membres of the Muslim Brotherhood that had killed Hussein and thrown the country into the civil strife that was going on. Egypt wasted no time to join the United States. Saudi Arabia, not willing to allow Iran conquering Iraq and turning it into Teheran's puppet, also joined the alliance and, on October 25, the Saudi army, supported by 45,000 Egyptian soldiers, crossed the border and invaded Iraq. At the same time, Juhayman ibn al-Otaybi and his Salfist followers were arrested by the Saudi policy after being accused of plotting to murder of king Khalid. In the following days, al-Otaybi and 67 of his followers were tried an publicly beheaded in the squares of eight Saudi cities. This shook the Arab states. King Hussein of Jordan ordered the execution of all Islamist political prisoners held in its jails. President Yahya Khan of Pakistan sent 50 elite counterinsurgency fighters to supplement the Saudi National Guard. Even the British send support with Army officers dispatched to Saudi Arabia to help to train the anti-terrorist Saudi units. By the end of November 1975, more than 3,000 Saudis had been arrested by the secret police. most being executed or thrown into prison for life. Eventually, Iraq would collapse under the American bombardement and the foreign invasion.

However, this was not the end of Iraq's troubles. The country would become a source of inestability for the Middle East for the next fifteen years, and would become a magnet for the White House under every president and it would prove costly for Wallace, who lost his nomination for re-election in face of the increasing criticism and the anti-war feeling that the Iraqi intervention caused. Then, Ronald Reagan became his replacement and crushed the Democrat Walter Mondale in the elections of 1976. He would also defeat the Democrat candindate in 1980, Jerry Brown. Today Reagan is remembered by his good relations with the Persian Sha and king Faisal, much to the changrin of No 10, as the British government was unable to avoid the increasing influence of the United States in the Middle East, until Reagan made a wrong move in 1983 when he supported the Jewish Agency for Israel and the establishment of the State of Israel according to the proposed plan of the League of Nations. As the United States became the enemy of most of the Arab states and Great Britain used the chance to recoverits ascendacy over her former Arab clients just as the Middle East slowly moved towards a critic situation that would see three wars and an oil shock in the next decade.

Ronald Reagan is, without a doubt one of the most successful Republican Presidents in history. The enduring legacy of the "Reagan Decade" was his cut in taxes, a large scale arms reduction treaty which followed the collapse of the Communist block (to the benefit of Israel, that would arm herself with the surpluses of the US military), and with being considered the President that set the bases for the disintengration of the Communist Cuba of Fidel Castro and the reunification of the island in 1991. Reagan was to leave behind himself a more conservative United States, with the division between Republicans and Democrats deeper than ever, and his shadow was to determine the course of the Republic party, for good and band, for the next decade and a half. In fact, he handpicked his replacement, George H. W. Bush, who almost crushed the Democrat candidate, Jimmy Carter, in the electoral campaign until the Iraqi ghost reared its ugly head with the terrible terrorist attack of November 3, 1984, when Islamis terrorist groups launched an onslaught attack against the United States, with ten bombs exploded in Washington, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. . The explosions killed 193 people and injured around 2,000 and changed the result of the elections, as Carter won the contest even if by the slightest of the margins.

President Ronald Reagan
(1911-2006) in 1982.
165. Football in Spain (1965-1985)

The Spanish League from 1965 to 1975

165. Football in Spain (1965-1985)

Many thought that with Di Stefano and Kubala retiring (in 1965 and in 1967), F.C. Barcelona would loose his primacy in the Spanish league. This seemed to be the case from 1965 to 1970, but for the 1968 championship. Without Di Stefano and with an ageing Kubala, the Catalan team was forced to stood side and watch how Sevilla, Betis, Real Sociedad, Atlético de Madrid and Valencia rose to the first place. However, those years were the time when the players that would lead the team to glory in the 70s and the 80s began to learn their job: Rexach, Benítez, Fusté, Rifé and Martí Filosía. They were the key for the championsip of 1969, but they would had to wait until the arrival of Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens to the team to become the absolute rulers of the "Liga" after three consecutive championships (1972, 1973, 1974).

This decade was to witness the rise to glory of Real Madrid after a quite irregular time. The team had underwent a dreadful period between 1968 and 1972 that caused, amon many other things, the removal of Santiago Bernabeu from thje presidency and his replacement by Raimundo Saporta in 1971. This change in the leadership and the arrival of the German player Paul Breitner in 1973 seemed to give a new breath to the team, those had a very good perfomance in the 1972-1973 season, a quite regular one in the following year and then the first championship since 1965. A key in this lucky spell would be the new manager of the team, Brian Clough, who, after making Derby champion of England in 1972 and a less than ideal short spell with Leeds United, landed in Madrid.

The Spanish League from 1975 to 1985

The "Clough age" of Real Madrid won three titles in a row (1974-1975, 1975-75 and 1976-1977) and a dreadful European perfomance that ended with Clough, not the easiest employée ever, kicked from the team barely after the beginning of the 1978-1978 season. By that time Breitner had left the team (in 1977) after several heated exchanges with Clough. The shameful defeat of Real Madrid in the first match of the 1977 European Cup (Real Madrid 0 - Brugge 4) saw Clough berating Breitner, as one of his mistakes opened the way to the defeat of the team in the Bernabeu. To prove themselves that the success of the team was not just due to Clough, the team managed to win the 1977-1978 season after a ferocious competition with Barcelona and Athletic. And then, in the following year, Real Madrid was not even able to finish in the five top positions and lost the final match of the 1978 European Cup, crushed again by Brugge, this time in Wembley Stadium.

And to add salt to the injury, Clough landed in Barcelona in 1979, just as Cruyff left the team. Barcelona was in crisis, after two awful seasons (1976-77 and 1978-79) and a third less than stellear (1977-1978). Clough "fame" did not earn him the trust of the followers of the team. His past in Madrid seemed to made him even more distateful to the culés. However, he not only changed this but also managed to have the fans of the team sitting in his lap. First, he brought with him two players, the English forward players Trevor Francis, and the Scottish left winger John Robertson and made them the center of the team. According to the Spanish press, it was a risky move, as neither players were too kweel-known in Spain. However, with the "British trio" Barcelona won three Spanish championships (1979-80, 1980-81 and 1984-85) and two European cups: first they went to beat Hamburg 1–0 at Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in 1980 and then they defeated Steaua Bucarest in 1986. By then, with Francis replaced with Steve Archibald and Robertson with Bernd Schuster, Clough was determined to leave a legend behind him.

166. The General Elections of 1988

166. The General Elections of 1988

The General Elections of 1988 are seen today as the first clear prove of the crisis that was suffering the old Spanish Parlamentarian system, which was only a mere sympton of the crisis that Spain was undergoing beneath the quiet surface. When barely half of the Spanish voters went to the polls on November 1988, many were shocked and rushed to provide an explanation. Few of them were right in their theories and even fewer were in the right places to be heard. No one paid attention to them until it was too late.

The Progressive Conservative Party kept its majority in the enlarged Parliament, albeit by a thin margin. The Liberals and the Socialdemocrats rose, as the Nationalists and the Socialists, too. The PSOE had recovered slightly in spite of the death of Tierno Galván in 1985 and the new candiadte, Juan Barranco. His good perfomance as major of Madrid (since 1983) had won him the support of most of the Socialist leadership and this, in return, had given the old party new hopes and modern ideas that had been coldly taken by the press (mainly the "official" one) but very heartedly by the Socialist voters.

The small rise of the Nationalist AD led by José Antonio Ardanza had its collateral effects on the Liberal Party. Oscar Alzaga would withdrawn from politics in eraly December due to the disappointment that followed the elections, as the polls in mid-campaign predicted a better result (the same polls had also failed to predict the low turnout). and would be replacled by Adolfo Suárez, who was been selected for his more Liberal ideas (no pun intended) in order to distance the party to the center-right turn of Verstrynge. However, even if Suárez brought new hopes and younger politicians to the top, many doubted about him. However, Suárez's popularity in Catalonia played in his favor as the Liberals had been the only great Spanish party to do well in that part of the country (it must be mentioned that 14 of the 34 seats lost by the PDE were from Catalonia; while the Liberals had won 8 there) reinforced his position within the Liberals. After all, many pointed out, the unexpected intervention of Suárez in the Catalan electoral campaign had been the main cause for the Liberal success there.

For Fernández Ordóñez, the elections of 1988 were the last ones. Even if the party had improved his position in the Parliament, his poor perfomance in the campagin had exhausted the patience of the leadership of the party and he was the victim of a vote of no confindence in the next Socialdemocrat Congress, that took place in April 1989. After this, the party would slowly disolve due to the lack of union towards the elections of a new leader. The center-left wing of the USD joined then the PSOE, attracted by the charisma of his new young leader while half of the members of the Cortes of the party either joined the Liberal or the Progressive Conservative Party. By the end of 1990, the USD was no more.

Partido Conservadoar Progresistal (Versytrnge)154/29537.65-34
Partido Liberal (Adolfo Suárez)73/29526.26+23
Unión Socialdemócrata (Fernández Ordóñez)41/2959.98+11
Alianza Democrática (José Antonio Ardanza )24/29516.32+4
Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Juan Barranco)4/2959.79+3
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