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José María Aznar López

Spanish politician (Madrid, 1953). Studied law in Madrid. He joined the State Finance Inspectors Corps via public examination in 1976. His first destination was Logroño, where he joined the ranks of the Alianza Popular (AP) [People's Alliance] in 1979. In October of the same year, he was elected General Secretary of the party in Logroño. He won the elections in the constituency of the province of Ávila in 1982 and became a Member of Parliament, where he represented AP until 1987. He became party President for Castile Leon in 1985, Assistant General Secretary of the party and member of the Executive Committee in 1986. In June 1987, he won the regional elections in Castile Leon and held the Presidency of the Regional Government based in Valladolid (1987-1989).

Following the 1989 general elections, he became Leader of the Opposition to the Socialist Government and candidate for the Presidency of the Government. He was invested as National President of the Partido Popular (PP) [People's Party] - the new name for the conservative party - in October 1989, at the party's 10th National Congress, as successor to Manuel Fraga. He was subsequently elected Vice-President of the International Democratic Union and the European Democratic Union. He stood as candidate for Head of Government in the 1993 general elections. He suffered an attack at the hands of ETA on 19 April 1995 in Madrid, which he emerged from unscathed. He once again headed the PP list in the general elections on 3 March 1996, at which he secured victory.

He formed his government on 5 May 1996 with parliamentary support from the moderate nationalist parties (Convergència i Unió [Convergence and Union], Partido Nacionalista Vasco [Basque Nationalist Party] and Coalición Canaria [Canary Island Coalition]. During this term of office, he initiated a policy of economic liberalisation and privatisation of major public companies. He renewed his post as President of the Government in the general elections of March 2000, at which his party won an absolute majority. In this second term, his policies were more focused overseas and he aligned his policies with the basic guidelines of the European Union and the foreign policy of the United States. In September 2003, he proposed Mariano Rajoy as candidate for the 2004 general elections, won by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Spanish acronym: PSOE). In October 2004, he was appointed honorary president of his party.