Profession: New Zealand Prime Minister
Why Famous: Lange served as the Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1984 until his resignation in 1989. Prior to this he served as the MP for Mangere, in Auckland.
His election in 1984 was a landslide for the Labour Party, defeating incumbent Robert Muldoon after nine years in power. Labour entered office at a time when the New Zealand economy was sinking, and Lange's government introduced wide-ranging free market economic reforms not generally expected from a left-wing government. These initiatives were led by Finance Minister Roger Douglas; the conflict between Lange and Douglas would cause the resignation of both from their positions.
Aside from the widespread economic reforms, Lange introduced the New Zealand nuclear free legislation which established a nuclear free zone in New Zealand and its waters. This led to conflict with the US, whose naval ships were effectively banned from New Zealand ports, and to the suspension of New Zealand's membership in the ANZUS alliance. Lange defended his policy in a famous debate at the Oxford Union in 1985.
He also presided over the investigation into the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985, by French special agents, which caused a diplomatic crisis between the countries.
Lange was popular for his abilities as an orator and for his witty persona. Re-elected in 1987, Lange's government increasingly tore itself apart over the economic changes instituted by Douglas. Douglas resigned after Lange overruled some of his proposals; when Cabinet voted Douglas back in, Lange resigned as prime minister in 1989.
- 1984-07-14 New Zealand snap election, David Lange's Labour Party defeats Robert Muldoon's National Party
- 1989-08-08 New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange resigns after 5 years on a no confidence issue