Freelance Spain
The Political Scene

José María Aznar
Prime minister of Spain.

José María Aznar was elected as Presidente del Gobierno (prime minister) of Spain in 1996, for the conservative Partido Popular, and reelected in March 2000.

Born on February 25, 1953, Aznar comes from a middle-class Madrid family, and his father was a bureaucrat under the Franco regime. Aznar studied Law at Madrid University and took a competitive test to obtain a post in the Spanish Tax department.

He was head of the regional government in Castilla-León before being hand-picked by the Spanish conversative's patriarch, former Franco minister Manuel Fraga Iribarne, to head the party, unsuccessfully running against the socialist premier Felipe González in general elections in 1993.

It was largely the socialists' loss of credibility that won him the top spot in 1996, though the Party Popular failed to gain a ruling majority and were able to form a government thanks only to the consent of the regional Catalan Nationalist Party. With a favorable economic climate, the conservatives were able to secure an absolute majority in the 2000 elections.

A devout Catholic, Aznar has alway been considered somewhat colorless and lacking in charisma, very much the former taxman, in contrast with his vivacious wife, Ana Botella, but he makes up for these shortcomings in above-average intelligence, and his insipid television presence has improved during his years in office.

THIS IS A TIME-SENSITIVE FEATURE: Last update, June 14, 2000

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