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Tuesday, November 22, 2011 (read 898 times)

Who is Mariano Rajoy?

by Matthew Leake

If you’ve been keeping up with the news over the past week then you are bound to have come across coverage of the Spanish General Election that took place last Sunday. For anyone who may have missed out on what happened, Spain now has a new Government with Mariano Rajoy of the People’s Party (PP) set to become its new Prime Minister.

Here’s a short summary of how Spain has ended up at this point:

  • José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s Socialist Party (PSOE in Spanish) had been in power for seven years after winning the General Election in April 2004 and again in 2008.  
  • In April this year, Zapatero announced that he would bring the 2012 General election forward to November 2011 due to Spain’s economic problems. He also stated that he would not stand for re-election, instead giving way to his Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.
  • Last Sunday approximately 72% of Spaniards eligible to vote went to the polls.
  • On Sunday evening the results of the election came in and the outcome was clear straight away with the PP recording a landslide victory over PSOE to win by the biggest margin since the reinstatement of democracy in Spain in 1978.

The PP now has a commanding majority in the Chamber of Deputies with 186 seats to PSOE’s 110. Over the following month the transition of power between the two parties will take place as King Juan Carlos symbolically selects Mariano Rajoy to form a new government.

So what do we know about Spain’s new Prime Minister? Well, he is a 56 year old Galician who was born in Santiago de Compostela. His political career with the PP began back in 1981 and he was promoted to party leader just before the 2004 election taking over from José Aznar. Since then he has guided the PP to consecutive election defeats before finally achieving success this year. His lanky frame and trademark glasses and beard combination make him an easy target for cartoonists. In addition to being a born survivor in the political arena, Rajoy was incredibly lucky to walk away from a helicopter crash outside Madrid in 2005 virtually unscathed but for a broken finger.

These are interesting times for Spain and many wait with anticipation to see whether Rajoy he can find a solution to the country’s biggest issues and win over the Spanish public. Only time will tell!

Keywords: mariano rajoy, rajoy, spanish election, spanish prime minister, new spanish prime minister, spanish politics


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