The Partido Popular (Popular Party) emerged from the Popular Alliance in 1989, at which date José María Aznar succeeded Manuel Fraga Iribarne as leader. This marked a decisive stage in its development into the main opposition party during the later stages of socialist (PSOE) hegemony between 1982 and 1993. Internal reorganization and a change of image were intended to increase PP's credibility as an alternative government, and it was rewarded with success in municipal elections, and in elections to the parliaments of the various autonomous communities. Though it narrowly failed to win a majority in the general elections of 1993, by 1995 it was the governing party in three-quarters of the autonomous communities and in all the large cities except for La Coruña in Galicia, and the cities in the Basque country and Catalonia. It won enough votes in the general elections of 1996 to form a minority government, with the support of the Basque and Catalan nationalist parties, the PNV and CiU.
   The advance of PP is partly explicable in terms of a combination of strong central organization and widely disseminated local groups. Its change of name in 1989 reflected a desire not only to assimilate it to other mainstream European parties of the centre-right, but also to emphasize structural coherence, rather than the notion of a coalition which its previous title had suggested. The adoption of new symbols, reflecting an increasing emphasis on marketing of its image, was an attempt to forge links with various social constituencies, and develop external relations. In economic affairs, PP adopted a neo-liberal approach, which won support from the employers" organization, CEOE. Relations with other interests have been institutionalized via a specific section of the Executive Committee, and the party has displayed greater professionalism in cultivating the media. Expert professional help has been sought for planning party activities and training leadership cadres. This new professionalism, and its change of image had as much to do with its electoral victory in 1996 as had the recession, the exhaustion of PSOE after fourteen years in power, and the prevalence of corruption during the socialist mandate. In 1990 PP formally applied to join the European Popular Party, the Christian Democratic grouping in the European Parliament, and since then has increased its international participation in centre-right politics, both in Europe and Latin America.
   See also: political parties; politics
   Further reading
   - Heywood, P. (1995) The Government and Politics of Spain, London: Macmillan (see pp. 203–8 for an excellent brief account of the rise of the "new right" in Spain).
   - López Nieto, L. (1998) "The Organizational Dynamics of AP-PP" in P.Ignacio and E.Ysmal
   - (eds) (1998) The Organization of Political Parties in Southern Europe, Westport, CT and London: Praeger, pp. 254–69.
   - Ross, C.J. (1997) Contemporary Spain: A Handbook, London: Arnold (pp. 63–8 offer a lucid summary of the evolution of PP in relation to its predecessors and right-wing partners).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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