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Esperanza Aguirre

Assumed office 
17 October 2003
Preceded by Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón

Born 3 January 1952 (1952-01-03) (age 58)
Madrid, Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain
Nationality Spain
Political party PP
Spouse(s) Fernando Ramírez de Haro y Valdés, Count of Murillo

Esperanza Aguirre Gil de Biedma, Countess of Murillo, Grandee of Spain, DBE (born 3 January 1952, Madrid, Spain) is a Spanish politician, currently the President of Madrid, that is, the Head of Government of the Autonomous Community of Madrid region in Spain. She is President of the Partido Popular and the first female politician in Spain to have been President of the Senate and Minister of Education and Culture in Spanish democratic history.

A former member of Unión Liberal, Partido Liberal and Popular Alliance, which changed its name to Partido Popular (People's Party) in 1989. Since her early years she has been a member of the Club Liberal of Madrid, which was presided over by the an economics professor at the Complutense University, Pedro Schwartz. Schwartz reportedly played an important role in the beginnings of Mrs. Aguirre political career: in 1983, he was the one to convince her, by then a civil servant, to stand in the Madrid local elections of that year for Schwartz's Liberal Union and become a councilwoman.[1]


Early years (1952-1974)

She was born into an upper middle class family of Madrid, daughter of José Luis Aguirre Borrell, a lawyer, and Piedad Gil de Biedma Seoane, the eldest of eight siblings. She is related to the Catalonian poet, Jaime Gil de Biedma. She studied in the La Asunción schools and in Madrid's British Institute. She earned a degree in Law in Complutense University (Madrid) in 1974.

Administrative career (1974-1982)

In 1976 she joined the Technical Division of the Ministry of Information and Tourism as a civil servant. She was head of the Department of Publicity and Tourism, where she remained until 1979. Subsequently she had many different jobs in the Ministry of Culture, serving several Ministers during the Democratic Centre Union governments; especially designated by the Prime Minister himself. In 1979, she was head of the Technical Cabinet of the Director-General of Literature and Cinematography. In 1980 she was appointed to be Deputy Director-General of Studies of the Technical State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture. In 1981, she was appointed to be Deputy Director-General of the Technical Cabinet of the Secretary of Culture. Her last position with the Administration was as Deputy Director-General of Cultural Associations.

Councillor of Madrid (1983-1996)

Esperanza Aguirre first became a councillor with the defunct Coalición Popular, in which she was a member of the smaller Unión Liberal. Between 1983 and 1986 she held a seat on Madrid City Council as a member of Coalición Popular. While in opposition, she was a member of the Standing Committee of the City Council, a CP spokeswoman on the areas of Culture, Education, Youth and Sports Affairs, and the Moncloa district. When Unión Liberal merged with Partido Liberal, in December 1984, she held different positions in the National Executive and the Political Council of José Antonio Segurado's Partido Liberal.

In 1987 she left the Partido Liberal and joined Popular Alliance, which later became the People's Party. She was subsequently reelected to the city council, and continued in opposition until 1989, when a successful vote of no confidence ousted the socialist mayor Juan Barranco; allowing the People's Party and Democratic and Social Centre to rule Madrid for the first time since the restoration of democracy in 1977. In the new local executive, she was designated head of the Department of the Environment.

In 1991 the People's Party under José María Álvarez del Manzano won a council majority and Esperanza Aguirre was again appointed to the Environment Department. Two years later, she was designated as Head of the Culture Department and controlled the areas of Sports, Education and Hygiene. In 1995 she became the spokeswoman of People's Party in Madrid City Council and was appointed by the City Council to the Caja Madrid Board of Governors.

Minister of Education, Culture and Sports (1996-1999)

In the general election of 1996 she was the candidate for the Senate for Madrid of the People's Party, after her designation as a member of the National Executive Committee of the Party; and she became a senator. The then new President, José María Aznar, appointed her to be Minister of Education, Culture and Sports. She was succeeded in those posts in 1999 by Mariano Rajoy.

President of the Senate (1999-2002)

Aguirre, a Senator since 1996, was elected President of the Senate in February 1999, the first woman to do so. In March 2000, she was re-elected Senator for Madrid, becoming the top-voted candidate in Spain with 1.55 million votes and 50.7% of the popular vote, a percentage record still unbroken[2]. In 2002 she resigned in order to run for the Presidency of the Autonomous Community of Madrid in the regional Assembly elections of 2003, being substituted as President of the Senate by Juan José Lucas.

President of the Community of Madrid (2003-)

Esperanza Aguirre in 2007

First regional elections of 2003 and the dissenting deputies of PSOE

When the regional elections took place in May 2003, the People's Party won a plurality of seats. The People's Party won 55 seats in the Madrid Assembly, being the only party of the right in the Assembly, While on the left PSOE won 47 seats and United Left won 9 seats, thus making it possible for a coalition of PSOE and IU to rule.

However, the election of a leftist coalition was not possible due to two dissenting deputies of the PSOE, Eduardo Tamayo and María Teresa Sáez, who refused to obey the party whip in the first two votes, the election of the speaker, and the election of the president. Most leftist politicians and several media organs accused Tamayo and Sáez of being bribed into breaking their party discipline by prominent members of PP, following accusations that the hotel rooms they were hiding in had been paid for by businessmen from the construction industry with links to the PP. This theory was dismissed after a parliamentary investigation and was never proven.

Second regional elections of 2003

In October 2003, following the scandal concerning the dissenting deputies, the regional elections were rerun. The People's Party won a majority of seats enabling Esperanza Aguirre to became the President of the Community Madrid.

Her most important achievements in these years were the reduction of surgery waiting times, the building of 8 new hospitals, 87 new state schools (most of them bilingual), an increase in the investment for several scholarships of education and the expansion of the Underground to suburban areas, like Pozuelo de Alarcón. She was also the target of important public opposition due to her program to privatize public health. Developing a system in which private companies where hired to completely manage public hospitals. There was opposition from the Social Democrats, but also from her own party.

Private life

She has been married since 1974 to Fernando Ramírez de Haro y Valdés, Count of Murillo and Grandee of Spain, a businessman, and has two sons, Álvaro and Fernando. She is fluent in English and French.


In February 2004, Esperanza Aguirre was appointed Honorary Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She is the first Spanish woman to date to have been awarded this honour.


She was one of the many civilians trapped in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on 26 November 2008, but managed to escape unharmed.


  1. ^ Extract of Aguirre bio by Virginia Drake, Esperanza Aguirre: la presidenta
  2. ^ In the 2008 election, her party colleague Juan José Lucas gathered 1.68 million votes, but this only amounted to ~48.5% of the valid vote

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Jerónimo Saavedra
as Minister of Education
Carmen Alborch

as Minister of Culture
Minister of Education, Culture and Sports
1996 - 1999
Succeeded by
Mariano Rajoy
Preceded by
Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón
President of Madrid
2003 - present
Spanish Senate
Preceded by
Juan Ignacio Barrera
President of the Senate
1999 - 2002
Succeeded by
Juan José Lucas
Party political offices
Preceded by
Pío García-Escudero
President of the PP in Madrid
2004 – present


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