People's Party (Spain)

People's Party (Spain)

party_name = Partido Popular
colorcode = #2A52BE
leader = Mariano Rajoy Brey
foundation = October 9, 1976 (AP)
January 20, 1989 (PP)
ideology = Conservatism,
Liberal conservatism,
Christian democracy
headquarters = C/ Genova, 13 (Madrid)
members = 707,000
european = European People's Party
international = Centrist Democrat International, International Democrat Union
colours = Orange, Blue (latest elections)
website = []

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

The People's Party was a refoundation 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 regime who was known to have moderate views. The new party combined the conservative AP with several small Christian-democratic and liberal parties. In 2002 Manuel Fraga received the honorary title of "Founding President".

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 24 MEPs sit with the EPP-ED Group.

Early beginnings

The Popular Alliance was founded in October 9, 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, dissension 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 Democratica", 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.


The "AP's Third Party Congress" in December 1979, party leaders were reassessing their involvement in the CD. Many felt that the creation of the coalition had merely confused the voters, and they sought to emphasize 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 probusiness 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 privatization, 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 president, 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, Popular Alliance entered a deep crisis. Fraga then took the reins and, at the Congress of January 1989, the CP was reestablished as a single party, the People's Party, that carried the characteristics of AP. Fraga was the first president of the party, with Francisco Álvarez Cascos as the secretary general.

Aznar Years (1989-2004)

On 4 September 1989, José María Aznar (then president of Autonomous Region of Castile and León) was elected candidate for Spanish president to the general elections, at the suggestion of Fraga himself. In April 1990, Aznar became president of the party. Fraga would later be named President-Founder of the People's Party

The PP was the governing party from 1996 to 2004, led by President "(Presidente del Gobierno)" José María Aznar. The PP won the general elections for the first time in 1996, and José María Aznar became president 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 absolute majority.


The unemployment fell by 19 %. Deficit 0 was achieved, the inflation decreased below 2%. The GDP grew, taxes were reduced and public services improved. State-owned companies were privatised such Iberia Airlines, Argentaria, Telefonica, Repsol, Enagas, Aceralia. Public spending decreased and Private Healthcare increased.


A truce was declared in 1998 where 135 ETA criminal were sent to prisons in the Basque region. The truce lasted a few months due to the terrorist group’s trick to strengthen its ranks. Aznar's government began a severe antiterrorism policy of harassing ETA and its environment in all possible political, legal, social and international ways that by 2004 there has were no more bombings, kidnaps or murders. Spain had been one of the few countries before 9-11 to strongly fight terrorism and emphasise the idea that terrorism is not a domestic problem but international.


During the Aznar years, the obligatory military service was lifted and military was reformed to be more professional. The National Hydrological Plan meant that most of the dry areas of the South East would have tributaries from other rivers. Corruption was no longer viewed as a problem by voters as it had been perceived as one of the main problems with the Gonzalez government.


It fiercely defended Spain's agricultural and fishery rights from the EU. Spain joined the Euro zone and had the EU sign the Niza Treaty in which Spain received the same strength as Germany or France would. It strongly opposed the EU enlargement.

Foreign Policy

Known to have strong Atlanticist ideology, it grew stronger ties to the US. Rather than getting closer to countries that were harmful to Spanish interest in the EU, Germany and France, Spain preferred to grow stronger relations with the UK. Spain joined the Coalition in Iraq War, despite not sending any belligerent forces during the war, it send peace enforcement troops after the war. On July 11, 2002, Morocco invaded the Spanish isle of Isla Perejil. After heavy diplomatic efforts to remove Moroccan troops from the islands, Spanish troops were sent in and captured all Moroccan soldiers. With US and NATO assistance, Spain induced Morocco to accept the Status Quo and never commit such an act.

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

Opposition Party (2004-present)

The PP under Mariano Rajoy has opposed the PSOE government since PP lost the elections in 2004, arguing that this victory was influenced by the 11 March Madrid bombings. At a national level, its political strategy has followed two main axis, 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 stating the powers of the Catalonian government. Fact|date=May 2007. Secondly, the opposition to political negotiations with the Basque terrorist 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 capable in mobilizing hundreds of thousands of citizens 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 finished the 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 Jose 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 to the 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.

2008 elections and convention

On 9 March 2008, Spain held a General Election, repeating the two main candidates that competed in 2004: the People's Party got 154 parliament members, up 6 from the last election. However, the failure to close in to the ruling Socialist Party (which enlarged its caucus by 5 members) provoked a party crisis, in which some internal groups and close media put Rajoy's leadership in question, who was said to be near to resignation. After an impasse of three days, he decided to stay and summoned a Party Convention to be assembled in June in Valencia. Massive speculations about alternative candidates erupted in the media, with speculations about the hypotethical candidacies of Madrid city City Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardón and Madrid autonomous community President Esperanza Aguirre creating national debate, support and opposition calls from media, etc.

In the end neither one stepped forward, with Gallardón explicitly backing Rajoy and Aguirre denying all comment over the issue. The only politician that explicitly expressed his will to compete 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 previous to his nomination. In the convention, Mariano Rajoy was reelected as president 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 direction was controversially renewed with young people, leaving behind a significant number of politicians from the Aznar era. Among those, most resigned of their own will 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 murdered by ETA in 1997, was elected into the new directive, and was said to represent the collective of victims of terrorism.

The convention also saw significant reforms to the Party Statutes, including the reform of the election to the Party President office, which was to be open to more competition, the linking of that office to the party candidacy in the general elections, etc. María San Gil, President of the Basque PP, left the party (even resigning from her Basque Parliament seat) over disagreements on the party policies towars peripheral nationalisms in Spain, and particularly over the deletion of a direct reference to the Basque Nationalist Party accusing them of being too passive and "contempt" regarding the terrorist 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.

Moderates and Conservatives

The Party is composed of two groups, 'Marianists' who support Mariano Rajoy and represent the moderate branch of the Party, these inlude: Maria Dolores de Cospedal, Ana Mato, Esteban Gonzalez Pons, Javier Arenas, Manuel Fraga, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, Francisco Camps, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, Ramon Luis Valcarcel, Jose Manuel Soria, Rosa Estaras, Juan Vicente Herrera, Juan Ignacio de Diego Palacios, Carlos Floriano Corrales, [Daniel Sirera] , Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, Pio Garcia Escudero, Jose Maria Lassalle, Jorge Moragas. The other groups tend to represent the more conservative or liberal(economically) branch of the Party, these include: Esperanza Aguirre, Juan Costa, Gabriel Elorriaga, Francisco Alvarez Cascos, Jaime Mayor Oreja, Maria San Gil, Angel Acebes, Ignacio Astarloa, Carlos Aragones, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Rodrigo Rato

Notable members

*Ángel Acebes Paniagua (Former Party's Secretary General and former Minister under Jose Maria Aznar)
*Esperanza Aguirre (President of the Community of Madrid and former President of the Senate)
*Javier Arenas (President of People's Party in Andalusia and former minister under Jose Maria Aznar)
*José María Aznar López (Former Prime Minister, Party's Honorary President)
* Rita Barberá (Mayor of Valencia)
*Miguel Angel Blanco (victim of terrorism in 1997, symbol among the political victims of ETA)
*Francisco Camps (President of the Community of Valencia)
*María Dolores de Cospedal (President of People's Party in Castilla-La Mancha and Party's Secretary General)
*Manuel Fraga Iribarne (Party's Founding President, former President of Galicia, member of the redactor-panel of the current Spanish Constitution and Tourism Minister under the Francoist Regime)
*Pío García-Escudero (Spokesman of People's Party in the Spanish Senate)
*Juan Vicente Herrera Campo (President of the Community of Castilla y León)
*Teófila Martínez (Mayor of Cadiz)
*Jaime Mayor Oreja (President of the Party's Spanish delegation in the European Parliament, former Interior Minister}
*Regina Otaola (Mayor of Lizarza)
*Ana Pastor (former minister under Jose Maria Aznar)
*Mariano Rajoy Brey (Party's President and Former First Vice-President of the Government)
*Rodrigo Rato (Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Former Vice-President)
*Alberto Ruiz Gallardón (Mayor of Madrid)
*Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría (Spokesman of People's Party in the Spanish Congress)
*Alicia Sánchez-Camacho (President of People's Party in Catalonia)
*Pedro Sanz Alonso (President of the Community of La Rioja)
*Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso (President of the Region of Murcia)
*Eduardo Zaplana (Former Spokesman of People's Party in the Spanish Congress, and former President of the Community of Valencia, involved in Terra Mítica case and Naseiro case)

ee also

*Politics of Spain
*List of political parties in Spain
*People's Party of Spain in the United States

External links

*es icon [ Partido Popular official site]
** [ People's Party of Spain in Belgium official site]
** [ People's Party of Spain in Luxembourg official site]
** [ People's Party of Spain in the United States official site]


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