Wilfried Martens, born on 19 April 1936, was prime minister of Belgium (except for brief periods) from 1979 to 1992.
Martens attended the University of Leuven, where he was active in the Flemish Students Association. After graduation he continued to work for the cause of Flemish-speaking Belgians.
He joined the Flemish Social Christian party in 1962, became its chairman in 1972 and entered parliament in 1974. He had no ministerial experience when he was chosen prime minister by a fragile coalition of five parties.
Martens survived numerous political crises during his tenure of office, most of them caused by tensions between the Flemish-speaking and French-speaking factions of the nation. There was also strong opposition to his austere program for economic reform. Martens was succeeded in office on 7 March 1992 by Jean-Luc Dehaene, following a period of political uncertainty caused by inconclusive elections in November 1991.