UN Picks Socialist Politician As New Secretary-General

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

United Nations Security Council members have chosen former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres as the international body’s next secretary-general.

Guterres previously served as the UN’s high commissioner for refugees before being chosen to head up the whole UN by the 15-member Security Council Wednesday.

But before Guterres worked for the UN, he served as the president of Socialist International (SI), a global network of national socialist parties seeking to establish “democratic socialism” around the world.

SI was formed after World War II, and helped fund socialist movements in Spain and Portugal. In the late 1980s, SI even funded the communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua — a move that flew in the face of U.S. interests.

Guterres also became the leader of Portugal’s Socialist Party in 1992, and then the country’s prime minister when socialists won a major electoral victory in 1995.

Guterres enjoyed widespread popularity in his early years, increasing welfare spending and taxes to cut budget deficits. He was re-elected in 1999, but his popularity crumbled when economic growth stalled and the Hintze Ribeiro Bridge collapsed and killed 59 people.

Socialists suffered a crushing electoral defeat in 2001, and Guterres resigned. He then went to work at SI until 2005 when he joined the UN.

Guterres now heads the UN at a time when Syrian refugees have become a major source of political tension across Europe.

He had to beat out nine other candidates for the top UN job, including several female candidates. Christiana Figueres, the former head of the UN’s climate arm, was also in the running for the job.

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