Mateo Villanueva

Mateo Villanueva
President of Lauchenoiria
In office
21 July 1952 – 03 September 1959
Vice PresidentSophie Ross
Preceded byLucas Boag
Succeeded bySophie Ross
Leader of the Communist Party
In office
4 May 1950 – 03 September 1959
Preceded byConnor Hartwood
Succeeded bySophie Ross
Personal details
Born
Mateo Villanueva Lopez

(1910-11-20)November 20, 1910
Carville, Costeno
DiedFebruary 13, 1983(1983-02-13) (aged 72)
Buttercity, Lauchenoiria
NationalityLauchenoirian
Political partyCommunist Party
Spouse(s)Carmen Moreras
MotherAna Lopez
FatherOriol Villanueva

Mateo Villanueva (20th November 1910 - 13th February 1983) was President of Lauchenoiria from 21st July 1952 until 3rd September 1959, and was the considered the main instigator of the Lauchenoirian Communist Revolution.

Villanueva became leader of the Communist Party of Lauchenoiria in February 1950. He joined the party in January 1930 at the age of 19, and became leader of its youth wing in 1932. His father, Oriol Villanueva, had been an opponent of Lauchenoirian unification, supporting the independence of Costeno and the other Spanish-speaking provinces. Villanueva unsuccessfully stood for election to Parliament three times in 1942, 1946 and 1950.

In 1952, following a surge in support for communism, and a crackdown by the ruling Liberal Party, Villanueva called for revolution, eventually storming the parliament and seizing power. In 1959, he agreed to hold elections, and stepped down from his role as Leader of the Communist Party, provided no capitalist parties were allowed to stand.

Early Life & Education

Villanueva was born on November 20th 1910 in Carville, the capital of then-independent Costeno. In 1922, when Villanueva was 11, Costeno unified with other provinces to form Lauchenoiria. Villanueva was one of six children, who all attended Academia de la Ciudad, a private school situated in the city centre of Carville.

His father, Oriol Villanueva, was involved in the campaign against unification, believing that the two English-speaking provinces would come to dominate the Spanish-speaking south. After unification, Oriol refused to engage with politics.

While at school, Villanueva read The Communist Manifesto and became an advocate of communism, joining the Communist Party at the age of 19, while at university in Yerville, studying chemistry. He dropped out of university in 1931 and took a job working as a mechanic. He remained active in politics throughout the 1930s.

Political Career

Mateo Villanueva first stood for election to the Lauchenoirian Parliament in 1942 for Costeno West as the Communist Party candidate. He came third, behind the Liberal Party and the now-defunct Costenian Independence Party. Following his unsuccessful election, he began working with a local charity dedicated to helping those in poverty, providing free food and copies of communist literature to unemployed people living in Costeno Province.

In 1946, he stood again as the Communist candidate in Costeno West, this time coming in second with 9,148 votes to the winning Liberal candidate's 10,047. At this time he continued his work with the unemployed, while also returning to university, this time graduating with a degree in Political Science from Carville University.

In 1950, he stood again for election, in the constituency of Carville City, however he was disqualified under the Electoral Regulation Act 1933 for 'suspicious electoral activity'. This was seen by many supporters as a politically motivated disqualification by the Liberal government. He was elected as party leader shortly afterwards.

Party Leader & Revolution

As Leader of the Communist Party, Villanueva grew the party from a movement concentrated in Costeno province to a nationwide political force, viewed as the greatest threat by the Liberal Party. In February 1952, the Liberal Party offered concessions to the Communist Party in exchange for them withdrawing support for a General Strike that had hugely disrupted the Lauchenoirian economy. These were rejected by Villanueva.

Following this, the Liberal government banned the Communist Manifesto from being distributed, and introduced legislation requiring the government to approve all protests, allowing them to reject applications from communist organisations. The Communist Party became more militant, and though Villanueva initially did not appear to support violence, some historians have suggested this was a tactical move. His deputy, Sophie Ross, was the main voice in calling for violent action. She later succeeded him as president.

On the 12th July 1952, the Communist Party held a rally outside of Parliament without permission, led by Villanueva. He called for the Communists to storm Parliament and take power by force. This lead to a nine-day war after which factions of the military remaining loyal to the Liberal administration surrendered to the stronger Communist forces. Villanueva became President on the 21st July 1952.

Presidency

In the first three years of Villanueva's presidency, all seats in Parliament were vacant, pending the adoption of a new constitution. This meant Villanueva had unchecked power. His first act as President was to ban private enterprise, and arrest all those who owned businesses. Foreign citizens were deported, while Lauchenoirian business owners were imprisoned indefinitely.

Under Villanueva, it became illegal to be a member of a capitalist political party, with any such organisations being disbanded if discovered. Those found guilty of illegal party memberships were often imprisoned, but only for short periods. This law was only repealed in 1993. In 1955, Parliamentary elections were held, although only Communist Party candidates were allowed to stand. No Prime Minister was selected by Parliament during Villanueva's presidency.

During Villanueva's presidency, the old constitution was officially abolished, and its replacement was not ratified until 1960, meaning Villanueva essentially had unrestricted power. He was quick to imprison political opponents, including all surviving members of the previous government, however was reluctant to use labour camps or public executions like other contemporary dictators.

In 1959, Villanueva resigned as President, and his Vice President Sophie Ross succeeded him. He claimed this was a move towards a 'democratic, communist Lauchenoiria', however many historians have suggested that Ross was only a figurehead and Villanueva continued to pull the strings throughout her presidency. In the 1960 election, other political parties were allowed to stand, provided they supported a communist economic system.

Legacy & Controversy

Villanueva was broadly praised in Lauchenoiria until recent years for bringing income equality to Lauchenoiria and reducing unemployment. One hundred and forty two schools are named after Villanueva across Lauchenoiria, and a statue of Villanueva remains in front of the Lauchenoirian Parliament in Buttercity.

Supporters of Villanueva claim his presidency made Lauchenoiria a successful country with high employment and low inequality, as well as unifying the country through his abolition of provincial independence parties. Critics of Villanueva claim his regime committed many human rights violations and was oppressive and prevented Lauchenoiria developing as a modern state.

Prime Minister Suleman Chaher, who was behind the events that led to the Second Lauchenoirian Civil War cited Villanueva as one of his main inspirations, while former Prime Minister Laura Moore advocated tearing down the statue in Parliament Square.

In popular media

Villanueva has been portrayed many times in Lauchenoirian media, including in the 2017 film The Economics of Love, winner of the 2017 IDU Film Festival.