People's Party (Spain): Wikis


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People's Party
Partido Popular
President Mariano Rajoy Brey
Secretary-General María Dolores de Cospedal
Founded October 9, 1976 (1976-10-09) (AP)
January 20, 1989 (1989-01-20) (PP)
Headquarters Calle Genova, 13, Madrid
Youth wing Nuevas Generaciones (New Generations)
Membership 707,000
Ideology Centrism, Conservatism,[1]
Liberal conservatism,[1]
Christian democracy[1]
Political position Centre-right
International affiliation Centrist Democrat International, International Democrat Union
European affiliation European People's Party
European Parliament Group European People's Party
Official colours Orange, Blue
Politics of Spain
Political parties

The People's Party (Spanish: Partido Popular, PP) is the main centre-right political party in Spain.

The People's Party was a re-foundation of the Popular Alliance (Spanish: Alianza Popular, AP), a party led and founded by Manuel Fraga Iribarne, a former Minister of Tourism during Francisco Franco's dictatorship and a politician known to have relatively moderate views. The new party combined the conservative AP with several small Christian Democrat and liberal parties (the party call this fusion of views Reformist centre). In 2002, Manuel Fraga received the honorary title of "Founding Chairman".

The PP is currently the largest opposition party in the Congress of Deputies, with 154 out of 350 deputies, and the largest party represented in the Senate (second chamber), with 101 out of 208 senators. Its youth organization is New Generations of the People’s Party of Spain (NNGG).

The PP is a member of the Centrist Democrat International, International Democrat Union and the European People's Party (EPP). In the European Parliament its 23 MEPs sit with the EPP Group.


Early beginnings

The Popular Alliance was founded on 9 October 1976 by Manuel Fraga, who had served as a government minister under Franco and who had expected to play a key role in post-Franco governments. He underestimated the popular desire for change and distaste for Francoism, and he advocated an extremely gradual transition to democracy. Although Fraga had originally intended to convey a reformist image, his party was perceived by the electorate as both reactionary and authoritarian. When elections were held in June 1977, the AP garnered only 8.3 percent of the vote.

In the months following the 1977 elections, dissent erupted within the AP over constitutional issues that arose as the draft document was being formulated. Fraga wanted to move the AP toward the political centre in order to form a larger centre-right party. Most of the disenchanted reactionaries left the AP, and Fraga and the remaining AP members joined other more moderately conservative party leaders to form the Democratic Coalition (Coalición Democrática, CD). It was hoped that this new coalition would capture the support of those who had voted for the Democratic Centre Union (UCD) in 1977, but who had become disenchanted with the Adolfo Suárez government. When elections were held in March 1979, however, the CD received only 6.1 percent of the vote.


Headquarter of People´s Party in Calle Génova, Madrid

At the AP's Third Party Congress in December 1979, party leaders re-assessed their involvement in the CD. Many felt that the creation of the coalition had merely confused the voters, and they sought to emphasise the AP's independent identity. Fraga resumed control of the party, and the political resolutions adopted by the party congress reaffirmed the conservative orientation of the AP.

In the early 1980s, Fraga succeeded in rallying the various components of the right around his leadership. He was aided in his efforts to revive the AP by the increasing disintegration of the UCD. In the general elections held in October 1982, the AP gained votes both from previous UCD supporters and from the far right, and it became the major opposition party, securing 25.4 percent of the popular vote. Whereas the AP's parliamentary representation had dropped to 9 seats in 1979, the party allied itself with the small Christian-democratic Democratic Popular Party (PDP) and won 106 seats in 1982. The increased strength of the AP was further evidenced in the municipal and regional elections held in May 1983, when the party drew 26 percent of the vote. A significant portion of the electorate appeared to support the AP's emphasis on law and order as well as its pro-business policies.

Subsequent political developments belied the party's aspirations to continue increasing its base of support. Prior to the June 1986 elections, the AP once again joined forces with the PDP and with the Liberal Party (PL), formed the Popular Coalition (Coalición Popular, CP), in another attempt to expand its constituency to include the centre of the political spectrum. The coalition called for stronger measures against terrorism, for more privatisation, and for a reduction in spending and in taxes. The CP failed to increase its share of the vote in the 1986 elections, however, and it soon began to disintegrate.

When regional elections in late 1986 resulted in further losses for the coalition, Fraga resigned as AP chairman, although he retained his parliamentary seat. At the party congress in February 1987, Antonio Hernández Mancha was chosen to head the AP, declaring that under his leadership the AP would become a "modern right-wing European party." But Hernández Mancha lacked political experience at the national level, and the party continued to decline. When support for the AP plummeted in the municipal and regional elections held in June 1987, it was clear that it would be overtaken as major opposition party by Suarez's Democratic and Social Centre (CDS).

After the resignation of Manuel Fraga and the successive victories of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party in the general elections of 1982 and 1986, the Popular Alliance entered a period of deep crisis. Fraga then took the reins and, at the Congress of January 1989, the CP was re-established as a single party, the People's Party, that bore the characteristics of the AP. Fraga was the first chairman of the party, with Francisco Álvarez Cascos as the secretary general.

Aznar Years (1989-2004)

José Maria Aznar

On 4 September 1989, and at the suggestion of Fraga himself, José María Aznar (then premier of the Autonomous Region of Castile and León) was elected candidate for Spanish prime minister at the general elections. In April 1990, Aznar became chairman of the party. Fraga would later be named Founding Chairman of the People's Party.

The PP was the governing party from 1996 to 2004, led by Prime Minister (Presidente del Gobierno) José María Aznar. The PP won the general elections for the first time in 1996, and José María Aznar became prime minister of the Government with the support of the Basque Nationalist Party, the Catalan CiU party and the Canary Coalition. In the 2000 elections, the PP got an absolute majority.


Unemployment fell by 19%, a zero level of deficit was achieved, and inflation fell below 2%. GDP grew, taxes were reduced, and public services improved. State-owned companies were privatised: Iberia Airlines, Argentaria, Telefónica, Repsol, Aceralia. Public spending decreased and private healthcare increased.

Political violence

A truce was declared in 1998 where 135 ETA members were sent to prisons in the Basque region. The truce lasted for a few months. Aznar's government began a severe policy of harassing ETA and its environment in all possible political, legal, and social ways.


During the Aznar years, compulsory military service was ended, and the Spanish armed forces were reformed to become more professional. The National Hydrological Plan meant that most of the dry areas of the South-East would receive water from elsewhere in Spain. Efforts were also made to combat corruption.


The Partido Popular fiercely defended Spain's agricultural and fishery rights within the EU. Spain joined the Euro zone and signed the Treaty of Nice, under which Spain achieved parity with France and Germany. It strongly opposed EU enlargement.

Foreign Policy

Known to have a strong Atlanticist ideology, the Partido Popular fostered stronger ties to the USA. Rather than getting closer to countries that were harmful to Spanish interests in the EU (France and Germany), Spain preferred to foster stronger relations with the UK. Spain joined the Coalition in the Iraq War. Despite not sending any forces to take part in operations during the war, it sent in peace-keeping troops after the end of the conflict. On 11 July 2002, Morocco invaded the Spanish island of Perejil. After concerted diplomatic efforts to remove Moroccan troops from the island, Spanish troops were sent in and captured all Moroccan soldiers. With the assistance of NATO and of the USA, Spain persuaded Morocco to accept the status quo.

In August 2003, Mariano Rajoy was appointed Secretary General by Aznar. Thus, Rajoy became the party's candidate for the prime minstership in the Spanish general election, 2004, held three days after the terrorist 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings, and which Rajoy lost by a big margin to socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Opposition Party (2004-present)

Mariano Rajoy during a speech in Bilbao

The PP under Mariano Rajoy has opposed the PSOE government since the PP lost the elections in 2004, arguing that this victory was influenced by the Madrid bombings of 11 March 2004. At a national level, its political strategy has followed two main axes, both linked to Spain's delicate regional politics: firstly, opposing further administrative devolution to Catalonia by means of the newly-approved "Estatut" or Statute of Catalonia that lays out the powers of the Catalan regional government.[citation needed]; secondly, opposition to political negotiations with the Basque separatist organisation ETA.

The Partido Popular has supported the Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT) with respect to the Government's actions concerning ETA's ceasefire, and was able to mobilise hundreds of thousands of people in demonstrations against Government policies that, in its opinion, would result in political concessions to ETA. Nevertheless, the end of the ceasefire in December 2006 ended prospects for government negotiations with ETA.

The prospect of increased demands for autonomy in the programmes of Catalan and Basque parties, and Zapatero's alleged favouring of them, became a focus for the party's campaign for the General Elections in March 2008. Basque President Juan José Ibarretxe's proposal for a unilateral referendum for the solution of the Basque Conflict was another important issue.

The Partido Popular under Rajoy has an increasingly patriotic, or nationalist, element to it, appealing to the sense of "Spanishness" and making strong use of national symbols such as the Spanish flag. Prior to the national celebrations of Spanish Heritage Day, Rajoy made a speech asking Spaniards to "privately or publicly" display their pride in their nation and to honour their flag, an action which received some criticism from many political groups of the Congress.

PP demonstration in 2007 in opposition to releasing an ETA member from prison

2008 elections and convention

On 9 March 2008, Spain held a General Election, with both main parties led by the same candidates who competed in 2004: 154 People's Party MPs were elected, up 6 on the previous election. However, the failure to close the gap with the ruling Socialist Party (which increased its number of MPs by 5) provoked a party crisis, in which some internal groups and supportive media questioned the leadership of Rajoy, who was said to be close to resigning. After an impasse of three days, he decided to stay, and summoned a Party Convention to be held in June 2008 in Valencia. Speculation about alternative candidates erupted in the media, with discussion of the possible candidacies of Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruíz Gallardón and Madrid autonomous community Premier Esperanza Aguirre creating a national debate, calls for support and opposition from the media, etc.

In the end neither one stood, with Gallardón explicitly backing Rajoy and Aguirre refusing to comment on the issue. The only politician who explicitly expressed his intention to stand was Juan Costa, who had been a minister under Aznar, but he was unable to garner the 20% support required to stand in the election because of the support Rajoy had received prior to his nomination. At the convention, Mariano Rajoy was re-elected chairman with 79% of the vote, and in order to "refresh the negative public image of the party", which had been a major factor in the electoral defeat, its leadership was controversially renewed with young people, replacing a significant number of politicians from the Aznar era. Among the latter, most resigned of their own accord to make room for the next generation, like the PP Spokesman in the Congress of Deputies Eduardo Zaplana, replaced by Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría; and the party Secretary-General Ángel Acebes, whose office was taken by María Dolores de Cospedal. Also, María del Mar Blanco, sister of the PP councillor Miguel Ángel Blanco (who was assassinated by ETA in 1997), was elected into the new leadership to represent the Association of Victims of Terrorism.

The convention also saw significant reforms to the Party Statutes, including the reform of election to the office of Party Chairperson, which was to be open to more competition; and linking that office to the party candidacy in the general elections, etc. María San Gil, Chairwoman of the Basque PP, left the party (even resigning from her Basque Parliament seat) over disagreements on the party policies towards regional nationalisms in Spain, and particularly over the deletion of a direct reference to the Basque Nationalist Party accusing them of being too passive and "contemptuous" regarding the armed Basque separatist group ETA. Most PP members rallied behind San Gil at first, but when it became clear that her decision was final the national leadership called a regional party election, in which Antonio Basagoiti was chosen as the new Basque PP leader.

Notable members

See also


  1. ^ a b c

External links


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