José María Aznar

Former Prime Minister of the Government of Spain<p>

Tenure May 5, 1996 to April 17, 2004
Preceded by Felipe González
Succeeded by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
Date of birth February 25, 1953
Place of birth Madrid
Party People's Party (PP)

José María Aznar López (born February 25, 1953, in Madrid, Spain) was Prime Minister of the Spanish government from May 5 1996 to April 17 2004.

He is the grandson of Manuel Aznar Zubigaray, a prominent journalist.



He studied law at the Complutense University, graduating in 1975, becoming a Spanish Tax Authority inspector in 1976. In 1977 he married Ana Botella. He joined the conservative People's Alliance (AP) in January 1979, months after his wife. In March he became the Secretary general of the party in La Rioja until 1980. In February 1981 he joined the AP's National executive committee. He became assistant Secretary general in February 1982, and then, on October 26, 1982 he was elected to the Parliament, representing Ávila. On June 22, 1985 he was elected to the presidency of the AP in Castile-Leon. On December 2, 1986 AP leader Manuel Fraga, resigned after fierce internal party fighting in the 5 months since their failure to dent the majority of the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE). Aznar was not considered senior enough to be a possible successor, and gave his support to the more right wing Miguel Herrero who lost to Fraga's choice Antonio Hernández Mancha, resulting in Aznar losing his assistant secretary general post. On June 10, 1987, having resigned his parliamentary seat, he was elected to the Parliament of Castile-León, where he was made Governor of this Autonomous Region. Two years later, Aznar was voted by the National executive Committee to be the new leader of his party, re-named the Partido Popular (Popular Party, or PP). He resigned the Leon-Castile governorship to fight and lose the general election to President Felipe González and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) on October 29, though he came out of it with his reputation intact. With Fraga in power in Galicia Aznar confirmed his leadership of the PP at their X National Congress at the emd of March 1990. In November the PP moved from the Conservative group in the European Parliament to the more centrist and Christian Democratic European People's Party. On June 6, 1993 the PP again lost the general election, but improved on their previous performance with 34.8% of the vote, with PSOE losing its absolute majority and needing to form a pact with smaller parties in order to continue ruling. The result was a disappointment as the polls had predicted a PP victory. They did well in the 1994 European and 1995 local elections. On April 19, 1995, the Basque terrorist group ETA attempted to assassinate him. A passer-by was killed, but his armoured car saved him.


After a strongly fought campaign against the corruption scandals and alleged involvement of González with the GAL, an illegal anti-terrorist group, Aznar won the March 3, 1996 general election with 37.6% of the vote. With 154 of the 350 seats (PSOE had 141) Aznar had to reach agreements with three regionalist parties: Convergence and Unity (Catalan), the Basque Nationalist Party and the Canary Islands Coalition, in order to govern. He was voted President with 181 votes in the Cortes general on May 4 and sworn in the next day by King Juan Carlos I.

His first term was dominated by the economic agenda and the need to negotiate with these nationalist parties.

With the Spanish economy again on the upswing, Aznar was re-elected with an absolute majority in the 2000 general election. The major interests of his administration were to further improve the Spanish economy and to fight against internal terrorism. Aznar and his party adopted a firm defense of the current wording of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, strongly opposing a plan for further Basque autonomy presented by Basque president Juan José Ibarretxe.

Missing image
José María Aznar, speaking at Georgetown University, September 21, 2004.

He actively supported US President George W. Bush and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq in spite of strong public opposition and many protests.

In January 2004 Aznar called new elections, having already announced he would not be seeking the prime minister's office again. He nominated Mariano Rajoy as the PP's candidate for elections held in March 2004, which the PP, although it had been leading in the polls, lost three days after the Madrid train bombings.

After leaving office, he has presided over the FAES think tank, which is associated with the PP. He is a Distinguished Scholar in the Practice of Global Leadership at Georgetown University. After a 2005 reform admitted former prime ministers into the Spanish Council of State, a consultative organ, he has been the only one so far to become a member.

Published works

  • "Libertad y solidaridad" (1991)
  • "La España en que yo creo" (1995)
  • "España: la segunda transición" (1995)
  • "Ocho años de Gobierno. Una visión muy personal de España" (2004)
  • "Retratos y perfiles: de Fraga a Bush" (2005)

External links

See also

Preceded by:
Felipe González
Prime Minister of Spain
Followed by:
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
ca:José María Aznar López

da:José María Aznar de:José María Aznar es:José María Aznar López eo:José María AZNAR fr:José María Aznar nl:José María Aznar no:José María Aznar pl:Jose María Aznar Lopez pt:José María Aznar ro:José María Aznar fi:José María Aznar sv:José María Aznar

uk:Азнар Хосе Марія


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