José María Aznar López (born February 25, 1953) was President of Spain (styled Presidente del Gobierno from May 5 1996 to April 17 2004.
Aznar was born in Madrid, Spain but is of Basque descent. He is the grandson of Manuel Aznar Zubigaray , a Spanish diplomat and newspaper editor.
He studied law at the Complutense University before becoming a Spanish Tax Authority inspector. He joined the conservative People's Alliance (Alianza Popular), and was elected Member of Parliament for La Rioja. He was later elected to the presidency of Autonomous Community of Castile-Leon. His success earned him the trust of the party leader Manuel Fraga, who appointed him as new party leader. Aznar reorganised Spanish conservatives into a new party, the People's Party (Partido Popular or PP), moving to the political center by embracing economic liberalism without attacking the welfare state. Aznar moved the PP from the Conservative group in the European Parliament to the more centrist and Christian Democratic European People's Party.
On April 19, 1995, the Basque terrorist group ETA attempted to assassinate him. A woman was killed, but his armoured car saved him.
After a strongly fought campaign against the corruption scandals and alleged involvement of Felipe González and the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) with the GAL, an illegal anti-terrorist group, Aznar's PP lost the Spanish legislative election in 1994. Two years later he won the March 1996 general election. Lacking a majority, Aznar was able to reach agreements with three regionalist parties: Convergence and Unity (Catalan), the Basque Nationalist Party and the Canary Islands Coalition in order to govern.
His first term was dominated by the economic agenda and the need to negotiate with these nationalist parties.
Aznar was re-elected with an absolute majority in the 2000 general election. The major interests of his administration were to further improve the Spanish economy and to fight against internal terrorism. Aznar and his party adopted a firm defense of the current wording of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, strongly opposing a plan for further Basque autonomy presented by Basque president Juan José Ibarretxe.
He actively supported US President George W. Bush and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq in spite of the strong public opposition and many protests.
In January 2004 Aznar called new elections, having already announced he would not be seeking the prime minister's office again. He nominated Mariano Rajoy as the PP's candidate for elections held in March 2004, which the PP, although it had been leading in the polls, lost three days after the Madrid train bombings. In initially he and his government blamed ETA, but it soon became clear that it was the work of Islamic fundamentalists. The PP insists that it was ETA, though.
After leaving office, he has presided over the FAES think tank, which is associated with the Partido Popular, and does the dirty work for the PP. He is a Distinguished Scholar in the Practice of Global Leadership at Georgetown University. He speaks english poorly.
Aznar is married to Ana Botella Serrano , who was elected as a city councilor for Madrid on the PP ticket, with two sons and a daughter.
- "Libertad y solidaridad" (1991)
- "La España en que yo creo" (1995)
- "España: la segunda transición" (1995)
- "Ocho años de Gobierno. Una visión muy personal de España" (2004)