Aznar, José María

Aznar, José María
b. 1953, Madrid
   Politician
   Despite coming from a political family, Aznar did not take part actively in politics until the age of twenty-six, joining the Popular Alliance (Alianza Popular) after the general election of 1979. He was then employed as a civil servant in the Ministry of Finance regional office in Logroño, where within eight months he rose to be regional president of the Alliance. From 1981 he was appointed to different posts of the national staff. In 1982, he was elected as member of parliament for Avila. Between 1987 and 1989 he was head of the government of the autonomous community of Castile-León. In the following year, the party leader, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, appointed him Assistant General Secretary and a member of the National Executive Committee. When Fraga decided to concentrate on continuing his political career in his native Galicia, he proposed Aznar as his successor, a choice which was ratified at the tenth party conference in 1990. By then the party had changed its name to Partido Popular (Popular Party) (see also PP), which reflected its wish to throw off any lingering vestiges of its Francoist heritage.
   Under Aznar's leadership, the fortunes of the PP improved slowly. Though it lost the elections of 1989 and 1993, its share of the vote increased, and in the European elections in 1994 it won 40 percent of the vote, more than the government party, the socialist PSOE. In regional and local elections in the same year its position also improved, making Aznar appear for the first time as a credible alternative to Felipe González. A narrow victory in the general election of March 1996 enabled Aznar to form a minority government, with the support of the Catalan CiU and the Basque PNV in the lower house (Congreso). The composition of the cabinet, which included four women and two independents, reflected Aznar's determination to present himself as the leader of a modernized and reformist centreright party, representing a broad spectrum from Christian Democrat to liberal.
   See also: political parties; politics
   LOURDES LÓPEZ NIETO

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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