WASHINGTON - Mario Soares, Portugal’s former president and the founder of the country’s Socialist party, has died. He was 92.
Portugal has declared three days of national mourning starting Monday. His funeral will be held Tuesday.
In 1976, he became Portugal’s first post-coup prime minister and helped guide his country from dictatorship to parliamentary democracy and a place in the European Union.
In 1986, Soares became the country’s first civilian president in 60 years.
Soares was “one of the rare political leaders who had real stature in both Europe and the world,” said new U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is also a former Portuguese prime minister.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Soares was “a great European” and the “decisive figure for Portuguese democracy.”
French President Francois Hollande said Portugal’s democracy has lost “one of its heroes; Europe, one of its great leaders; and France, a faithful friend.”
European Parliament head Martin Schulz said Soares was “an inspiration” who “advanced freedom, equality and dignity.”