Pedro Solbes (El Pinós, Alicante) passed away this Saturday in Madrid at the age of 80 after a long illness. The news of his death occurred while the Federal Committee of the PSOE was meeting on Calle Ferraz, the party he never joined but under whose acronym he held the most prominent government positions: he was Secretary of State for Relations with the European Communities , Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and head of Economy and Finance during the mandate of Felipe González and, later, again Minister of Economy and Finance with the rank of second vice president, in the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
Convinced Europeanist and knowledgeable expert of the community machinery, he was even endorsed by the Executive of José María Aznar to occupy one of the most important positions in the European Commission, the person in charge of the Economic and Monetary Affairs portfolio. His life was dedicated for four decades to public service, always building bridges between Madrid and Brussels.
Precisely because of his vast knowledge of European relations and his solid prestige as an economist, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero chose him as the strong man of his first Government to direct the Spanish economy. During the first legislature the relationship between the two was fluid and fruitful. In the second, with the crisis knocking at the doors, the discrepancies between the imaginative and unpredictable politician and the professorial and calm economist began to surface.
The first could with the second dragging him to a stage that lowered the curtain before a perfect economic storm impossible to avoid. The minister adhered to the president's political and electoral strategy even knowing that it was wrong. Finally, Solbes said no and left the Government. No fanfare, but too late. Some time later he publicly admitted his huge mistake, so big that his name has inevitably been associated for many with that stage in which Spain was sinking without anyone trying to remedy it.
Yesterday, as soon as the news of his death was known, the Socialist Party turned to offering him memory on social networks. And not only. There were also many opposition politicians who made his condolences public.
The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, in a last intervention before the Federal Committee, had an emotional memory of the former vice president, assuring that his death had "overwhelmed" the entire socialist family. Later, in a tweet, he described him as a "statesman dedicated to serving his country and upholding social democratic values."
The PSOE also issued a statement highlighting his "exemplary career at the service of Spain and the institutions."
Former President Rodríguez Zapatero stressed for his part that "he had the best qualities as a public servant: seriousness, rigor, reliability and honesty."
The president of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, also emphasized his status as a "public servant" defining him as "one of the main socialist values for decades" and the president of Congress, Meritxell Batet, reminded him as "a great figure" and a «reference for Spanish politics».
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