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Mariano Rajoy

Assumed office 
17 April 2004
Preceded by José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero

In office
28 April 2000 – 3 September 2003
President José María Aznar López
Preceded by Francisco Álvarez-Cascos
Succeeded by Rodrigo Rato Figaredo

Born March 27, 1955 (1955-03-27) (age 54)
Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Galicia, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Political party Partido Popular
Spouse(s) Elvira Fernández Balboa
Children Mariano Rajoy Fernández, Juan Rajoy Fernández
Residence Madrid, Spain
Alma mater University of Santiago de Compostela
Occupation Civil Servant
Religion Roman Catholic
Website PP website

Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spanish pronunciation: [maˈɾjano raˈxoi]) (born 27 March 1955) is a Spanish politician. As the leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP) he is currently leader of the opposition in the Spanish parliament.

Having served as minister in previous PP cabinets, Rajoy was appointed as the party candidate for prime minister in the controversial Spanish general election on 14 March 2004. That election was won by the then opposition Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) in the aftermath of the 2004 Madrid train bombings.



Rajoy was born in Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia in north-western Spain, a traditionally conservative region. He holds a law degree from the University of Santiago de Compostela and at the age of 24 he became the youngest ever property registrar of Spain.

Early political career

He started his political career in Galicia in 1981, as a member of the right-wing Alianza Popular ("People's Alliance", AP) becoming a deputy in the Galician autonomous Parliament in this year. In 1982 he was designated Minister of Institutional Relations of the Xunta de Galicia. On 11 June 1986 Rajoy was elected President of the Provincial Deputation of Pontevedra, a position he held until July 1991.

In the General Elections of 22 June 1986, he obtained a seat in the Congress of Deputies as the head of the AP's list for Pontevedra, although he resigned in November to take up the post of vice-president of the Xunta of Galicia following the resignation of Xosé Luis Barreiro and the rest of the ministers. He occupied this latter position until the end of September 1987.

When in 1989 the AP merged with other parties to form the Partido Popular (PP), with Manuel Fraga Iribarne as its president, Rajoy was named a member of its National Executive Committee and delegate for Pontevedra. He was reelected to parliament in 1993. Before the PP's triumph in the 1996 elections, he was a PP-designated member of the "Commission of Parliamentary Control of RTVE".

Minister of Spain (1996-2004)

Mariano Rajoy in 2002 as Interior Minister

A long-time associate of José María Aznar, he moved into national politics when Aznar became Prime Minister in 1996 with the support of PNV, CiU and the Canarian Coalition, serving as Minister of Public administration and Minister of Education and Culture in the first Aznar administration.

In 1996 he married a fellow Galician, Elvira Fernandez Balboa.

He managed the successful People's Party campaign in the 2000 elections. A grateful Aznar appointed him Deputy Prime Minister of the Spanish Government. In February 2001 he was named Minister of the Interior, after Jaime Mayor Oreja decided to run as head of the People's Party list in the 2001 Basque Elections.

On 30 August 2003 Aznar announced that he would retire from politics in the 2004 elections and proposed Rajoy as his successor. After the 14th Congress of the People's Party in October 2004 he became the new Chairman of the party, by then in the opposition, having lost the elections to the PSOE.

Candidacy and Leader of the opposition (2004 to present)

Mariano Rajoy (right) and Ángel Acebes.

Three days before the 2004 general elections terrorist attacks occurred in Madrid on 11 March, which were initially blamed on ETA and later on Al-Qaida. Aznar's government and Party leaders insisted on accusing the armed Basque separatist organisation ETA of the attacks, and on 13 March, Rajoy claimed to believe this because he was convinced of their will and capability for committing such crimes,[1]. The government were accused of attempting to blame ETA for the attacks in order to stay on track to win the elections (as they were heavily favored to), but then news broke that it was Al-Qaida, rather than ETA. The trial for the bombings began on 15 February 2007.

On 14 March 2004 the PSOE, under the leadership of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, won the elections with a majority of 1,300,000 votes over the PP, and obtained 164 deputies, while the PP obtained 9,763,144 votes but 148 deputies, 35 less than they obtained in 2000.[2] Rajoy was elected for the province of Madrid.

On 1 December 2005 he survived a helicopter accident, along with Madrid Regional Government President Esperanza Aguirre, and in which he broke a finger.[3]

Rajoy faced a serious situation within his party after receiving public pressure from the electorally successful Alberto Ruiz Gallardón (Madrid's Mayor) to be included in the PP lists for the general election in March 2008. Gallardón represents a more centrist sector within the party, whereas Rajoy, Angel Acebes and Eduardo Zaplana are widely accepted as representing a more conservative wing of the party, closer to Aznar. Rajoy's final decision was to leave Gallardón out of the list for those elections, an action which provoked concern about the alienation of potential PP voters. Some experts and newspapers even argued that it could cost Rajoy the elections. In any case, the power struggle for succession created a tense situation for him and for the party.[4]

On 30 January 2008, Rajoy received the support of Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Nicolas Sarkozy for the March 2008 Spanish general election.[5][6] The PP was defeated in the general election in March 2008 and Rajoy continues to be president of the main opposition party.

Criticisms of Zapatero's Administration

His criticisms of the present government have been focused on what he perceives as:

  • the derogation of ambitious plans of the previous executive
    • Plan Hidrológico Nacional National Hydrological Plan
    • LOCE Organic Law on the Quality of Education
  • The alleged "unnecessary" statutory reforms, such as submitted in the Catalan, Andalusian and Galician referendums with very high levels of abstention. According to Rajoy, some of those reforms constitute concealed changes of the autonomous communities towards a confederation, endangering the integrity of the State. He has said that if Zapatero wants to apply his view of Spain, it would be better if he proposed a reform of the Spanish Constitution, a reform that would need approval in a national referendum.
  • The alleged weakness facing the peace process opened as a result of the permanent ceasefire declared by the organisation ETA in 2006, broken by the Barajas bombing and the arms robbery.
  • The introduction of a citizenship subject in the last years of secondary education (Educación para la Ciudadanía) of polemic content (whose opponents, mainly the Catholic Church, and affiliated organisations, say is non-neutral and gives some left-wing political indoctrination). Rajoy has announced its cancellation if he wins the next elections.
  • Foreign policy
Political offices
Preceded by
Joan Lerma
Minister for Public Administrations of Spain
1996 - 1999
Succeeded by
Ángel Acebes
Preceded by
Esperanza Aguirre
Minister of Education of Spain
1999 - 2000
Succeeded by
Pilar del Castillo
Preceded by
Francisco Álvarez Cascos
First Vice President of Spain
2000 - 2003
Succeeded by
Rodrigo Rato
Preceded by
Francisco Álvarez Cascos
Minister of the Presidency of Spain
2000 - 2001
Succeeded by
Juan José Lucas
Preceded by
Jaime Mayor
Minister of the Interior of Spain
2001 - 2002
Succeeded by
Ángel Acebes
Preceded by
Juan José Lucas
Minister of the Presidency of Spain
2002 - 2003
Succeeded by
Javier Arenas
Party political offices
Preceded by
José María Aznar
Chairman of the Popular Party (Spain)
Spanish Congress of Deputies
Preceded by
Title jointly held
Deputy for Pontevedra
1986 – 2004
Succeeded by
Title jointly held
Preceded by
Title jointly held
Deputy for Madrid province
2004 – Present
Succeeded by
Title jointly held


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