Freelance Spain
Spaniards for the 21st century

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
President of the Government and Secretary General of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party)

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero gained the general elections March 14th, 2004, after a campaign which was marked by the Islamic attacks on the 11th in which a hundred ninety people died. It is on account of this event that some voices raises themselves against them arguing that they did not gain the elections by their own media, but by the bad management of the government of Aznar during the crisis. Nevertheless since the Spanish Socialist Party, (progressive party) that he presides, is affirmed that the victory was obtained for own media. In the time that he has being at front of the government, one of his most important actions has been the retreat of the Spanish troops in Iraq and the approach to the positions of France and Germany. Besides he is prompting certain changes of progressive color in laws that affect the education, the divorce or the marriage among homosexuals. Also his government is promising a law against the abuses on women and the reduction on contaminant gases to be able to reach the objectives of the convention of Kyoto. Nevertheless, the socialists maintain nearby positions to the previous conservative government in themes such as the economy. Zapatero was elected as secretary general of the PSOE at the party's 35th convention in July, 2000. His appointment was seen to symbolize the "Generation Next" of the historical Spanish socialist party, which following charismatic former premier Felipe González's resignation as party boss in 1997 was suffering an accute image and leadership problem.

Born in the city of Valladolid on August 4, 1960, Rodriguez Zapatero studied Law, but - aside from a stint as a law teacher - has devoted his entire life to politics, within the Spanish socialist party. From a family with left-wing ideas (his grandfather was a Republican captain who was executed by the Nationalists at the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936), he first became fascinated with politics when he attended his first political rally in Gijón (Asturias) in 1977, when Spain was about to hold its first democratic elections following the death of dictator Franco. The speaker was a young Felipe González, and Rodriguez Zapatero was mesmerized. The following year, he joined the socialist party.

In 1982, he headed the socialist youth organization in his home province of León (north-western Spain). In 1986, he became the youngest member of parliament in Spain when he won a seat representing the province. In 1988 he was elected to head the regional chapter of the socialist party in León, and in 1997 he was appointed to the Federal Executive Committee, the party's governing body.

Ideologically, Rodríguez Zapatero is a moderate, closer to social democracy than socialism.
Rodriguez Zapatero married in 1990, and has two daughters. His hobbies are jogging and trout fishing.


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