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Wilfried Martens


In office
17 December 1981–7 March 1992
Preceded by Mark Eyskens
Succeeded by Jean-Luc Dehaene
In office
3 April 1979 – 6 April 1981
Preceded by Paul Vanden Boeynants
Succeeded by Mark Eyskens

Born 19 April 1936 (1936-04-19) (age 73)
Sleidinge, Belgium
Political party CD&V
Spouse(s) Miet Smet
Religion Catholic

Wilfried Martens (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈβ̞ɪlfɾiˑt ˈmɑɾtəns]  ( listen); born Wilfried Achiel Emma Martens, 19 April 1936) is a Belgian politician. He was born in Sleidinge (East Flanders). Martens has been the 44th Prime Minister of Belgium from 3 April 1979 to 6 April 1981 and 17 December 1981 to 7 March 1992.

Martens was a Chair of the Belgian CVP (now renamed Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams CD&V) from 1972 - 79, sitting as a Deputy in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives (federal parliament) from 1974 - 91, and serving as a Senator from 1991 - 94.

He co-founded the European People's Party (EPP) in 1976 and has been EPP President since 1992.

From 1993 he was President of the European Union of Christian Democrats (EUCD), until its merger with the EPP in 1996. Martens also negotiated with Finnish conservative politician Sauli Niinistö the merger of the European Democrat Union (EDU) into the EPP (formally concluded in 2002). The successful fusion of all center-right European organizations into the EPP - currently the largest transnational European political party with 71 member-parties from 38 countries - is widely recognized as an important achievement of his European political legacy.

From 1994 - 98, he was a Member of the European Parliament, chairing the EPP Group.

From October 2000 to November 2001 he was also the President of the Christian Democrat International (CDI).

He re-appeared on the Belgian political stage on 22 December 2008 to help end the 2007-2008 Belgian political crisis.

Martens holds a doctorate in law, a degree in notarial studies, as well as a baccalaureate in Thomistic philosophy from the Catholic University of Louvain. He also studied international political science at Harvard University. He has practised law at the Ghent Court of Appeal.

Among numerous national and international distinctions, he was honoured in 1998 with the Charles V Prize for his contribution to European Union.

Private life

Martens has five children: two from his first marriage with Lieve Verschroeven (Kris and Anne) and three with Ilse Schouteden (Sarah, Sophie and Simon) whom he met in 1988 while she was an assistant working in his cabinet. After the birth of their twins in 1997 they married on 13 November 1998. Ilse Schouteden has a son from her previous marriage. In 2007 he divorced his second wife. On 27 September 2008 he married his ex-mistress from the 1970s Miet Smet, a former Belgian minister. It was his third marriage and her first.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Vanden Boeynants
Prime Minister of Belgium
1979–1981
Succeeded by
Mark Eyskens
Preceded by
Mark Eyskens
Prime Minister of Belgium
1981–1992
Succeeded by
Jean-Luc Dehaene
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