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People's Party (Spain)

People's Party
Partido Popular
Abbreviation PP
Leader Mariano Rajoy
Secretary-General María Dolores de Cospedal
Spokesperson Rafael Hernando
Founder Manuel Fraga Iribarne
Honorary President José María Aznar
Founded 20 January 1989
Merger of AP, DC, PL
Preceded by People's Alliance
Headquarters C/ Génova, 13
28004 Madrid, Spain
Youth wing New Generations
Membership  (2013) 865,761[1]
Ideology Conservatism[2][3][4]
Liberal conservatism[5]
Christian democracy[3][4][6]
Economic liberalism[3]

Spanish unionism[7]
Political position Centre-right[8][9][10][11] to
International affiliation Centrist Democrat International
International Democrat Union
European affiliation European People's Party
European Parliament group European People's Party
Colors      Sky blue
Congress of Deputies
185 / 350
157 / 266
European Parliament
16 / 54
Local Government (2011)
22,750 / 67,611
Regional Parliaments
385 / 1,248
Regional Government
13 / 19
Politics of Spain
Political parties

The People's Party (Spanish: Partido Popular [parˈtiðo popuˈlar]; known mostly by its acronym, PP [peˈpe]) is a Christian democratic[6][16][17] and conservative,[2][18] political party in Spain. It is one of the two major parties of modern Spanish politics.

The People's Party was a re-foundation in 1989 of the People's Alliance (Alianza Popular, AP), a party led and founded by Manuel Fraga Iribarne, a former Minister of the Interior and Minister of Tourism during Francisco Franco's dictatorship. The new party combined the conservative AP with several small Christian democratic 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 was until November 2011 the largest opposition party in the Congress of Deputies, with 153 out of 350 deputies, and the largest party represented in the Senate, with 101 out of 208 senators. Its youth organization is New Generations of the People’s Party of Spain (NNGG). In the elections of November 2011 the PP won a majority with 185 seats in the Deputies.

The PP is a member of the center-right European People's Party (EPP) and in the European Parliament its 16 MEPs sit in the EPP Group. The PP is also a member of the Centrist Democrat International and the International Democrat Union. The PP was also one of the founding organizations of the Budapest-based Robert Schuman Institute for Developing Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.

Early beginning

The party has its roots in the People's Alliance founded in 9 October 1976 by former Francoist minister Manuel Fraga. Although Fraga was a member of the reformist faction of the Franco regime, he supported an extremely gradual transition to democracy. However, he badly underestimated the public's distaste for Francoism. Additionally, while he attempted to convey a reformist image, the large number of former Francoists in the party led the public to perceive it as both reactionary and authoritarian. In the June 1977 general election, the AP garnered only 8.3 percent of the vote, putting it in third place.

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 had wanted from the beginning to brand the party as a traditional European conservative party, and wanted to move the AP toward the political centre in order to form a larger centre-right party. Fraga's wing won the struggle, prompting most of the disenchanted reactionaries to leave the party. The AP then joined with other moderate conservatives 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 Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) in 1977, but who had become disenchanted with the Adolfo Suárez government. In the March 1979 general election, however, the CD received 6.1 percent of the vote, again finishing a distant third.

Consolidation (1979–1989)

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. It became the major opposition party to the Spanish Socialist Workers 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.

File:Sede nacional del Partido Popular (Madrid) 01.jpg
Headquarters on Calle Genova in Madrid. As the party seat, the term Genova often used as a metonym for the Party leadership.

Subsequent political developments belied the party's aspirations to continue increasing its base of support. Prior to the June 1986 elections, the AP joined forces with the PDP and the Liberal Party (PL) to form the Popular Coalition (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 public 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 (PSOE) in the general election of 1982 and 1986 general election, the Popular Alliance entered a period of deep crisis. Fraga then took the reins and, at the Congress of January 1989, the constituent parties of the CP were folded into a new party, the People's Party. While the AP was the nucleus of the merged party, the PP tried to bill itself as a more moderate party than the AP. Fraga was the first chairman of the party, with Francisco Álvarez Cascos as the secretary general.

Aznar years (1989–2004)

Main article: José María 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 named the party's candidate for Prime Minister of Spain 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 became the largest party for the first time in 1996, and Aznar became Prime Minister with the support of the Basque Nationalist Party, the Catalan Convergence and Union and the Canarian Coalition. In the 2000 elections, the PP gained an absolute majority.


During this time period, Spain saw a large increase in house prices (19%). This situation was referred to as a "housing bubble" or "real-estate boom", the subsequent collapse of which led to the 2008–2014 Spanish financial crisis.[19][20]

Policy against ETA

A truce was declared in 1998 after Aznar's government moved 135 convicted ETA members to prisons closer to the Basque region.[21] The truce lasted for 14 months until ETA ended it on 28 November 1999.[22][23] Aznar's government began a severe policy of harassing ETA, proscribed internationally as a terrorist organization,[24] and its environment in all possible political, legal, and social ways.

Domestic policy

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.[25] Efforts were also made to combat corruption.[citation needed]

EU policy

The People's Party fiercely defended Spain's agricultural and fishery rights within the EU. Spain joined the Eurozone and signed the Treaty of Nice, under which Spain achieved parity with France, Italy and Germany. The PP strongly opposed EU enlargement.

Foreign policy

Known to have a strong Atlanticist ideology, the People's Party fostered stronger ties to the USA.[citation needed] Rather than getting closer to countries that the PP believed were harmful to Spanish interests in the EU (France and Germany), Spain preferred to foster stronger relations with the United Kingdom. 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 occupied Perejil,[26] a disputed deserted island near the Moroccan shore. 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 ante.

In August 2003, Mariano Rajoy was appointed Secretary General by Aznar. Thus, Rajoy became the party's candidate for Prime Minister in the 2004 general election, held three days after the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings, and which Rajoy lost by a big margin to Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Opposition party (2004–2011)

The PP under Mariano Rajoy has opposed the PSOE government since the PP lost the general election 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. Secondly, opposition to political negotiations with the Basque separatist organization ETA.

The People's Party 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 programs of Catalan and Basque parties, and Zapatero's alleged favouring of them, became a focus for the party's campaign for the March 2008 general election. Basque President Juan José Ibarretxe's proposal for a unilateral referendum for the solution of the Basque Conflict was another important issue.

The People's Party 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 honor their flag, an action which received some criticism from many political groups of the Congress.

File:Manifestación del 10 de marzo de 2007.jpg
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 six on the previous election. However, the failure to close the gap with the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (which increased its number of MPs by five) 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 councilor 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 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.

2011 elections

The PP won a clear victory in the 2011 Spanish general elections, ousting the PSOE from government. With 44.62% of the votes, the conservatives won 186 seats in the Congreso de los Diputados, the biggest victory they have ever had. On the other hand, the center-left PSOE suffered a huge defeat, losing 59 MPs. The PP, under Mariano Rajoy's leadership, returned to power after 7 years of opposition.

Illegal financing

In early 2009 a scandal involving several senior members of the party came to the public's attention. The Gürtel case resulted in the resignation of the party's treasurer Luis Bárcenas in 2009. The case against him was dropped in July 2011 but reopened the following year.

The leader of the party in the Valencia region, Francisco Camps, stepped down in July 2011 because of a pending trial. He was accused of having received gifts in exchange for public contracts, but was found to be not guilty.

Bárcenas affair

Main article: Bárcenas affair

In January 2013, the judges investigation discovered an account in Switzerland controlled by Luis Bárcenas with 22 million euros[27] and an other 4.5 million in the United States.[28] Allegations appeared in the media regarding the existence of supposed illegal funds of the PP, used for the undercover monthly payments to VIPs in the party from 1989 to 2009, including the current and former government presidents, Mariano Rajoy and José María Aznar.[29] The existence of such illicit funding has been denied by the PP.

Party leaders


# Leader Portrait Term of office Days Prime Minister
1 Manuel Fraga 60px 20 January
1 April
2 José María Aznar 60px 1 April
16 October
5312 1996–2004
3 Mariano Rajoy 60px 16 October
Incumbent 4143 2011–


# Leader Portrait Term of office Days
1 Francisco Álvarez Cascos 60px 20 January
30 January
2 Javier Arenas 60px 30 January
4 September
3 Mariano Rajoy 60px 4 September
15 October
4 Ángel Acebes 60px 15 October
21 June
5 María Dolores de Cospedal 60px 21 June
Incumbent 2799

Notable members

PP members elected as prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, government ministers and regional presidents have included:

Election results

Congress of Deputies

Congress of Deputies
Election Seats won ± Size # of votes  % Government Leader
107 / 350
11px2 2nd 5,285,972 25.8% Opposition José María Aznar
141 / 350
11px34 2nd 8,201,463 34.8% Opposition José María Aznar
156 / 350
11px15 1st 9,716,006 38.8% Minority gov't (supported by CiU, PNV and CC) José María Aznar
183 / 350
11px27 1st 10,321,178 44.5% Majority gov't José María Aznar
148 / 350
11px35 2nd 9,763,144 37.7% Opposition Mariano Rajoy
154 / 350
11px6 2nd 10,278,010 39.9% Opposition Mariano Rajoy
186 / 350
11px32 1st 10,866,566 44.6% Majority gov't Mariano Rajoy

European Parliament

European Parliament
Election Seats won ± Size # of votes  % Candidate
15 / 60
11px2 2nd 3,395,015 21.4% Marcelino Oreja
28 / 64
11px13 1st 7,453,900 40.1% Abel Matutes
27 / 64
11px1 1st 8,410,993 39.7% Loyola de Palacio
24 / 54
11px3 2nd 6,393,192 41.2% Jaime Mayor Oreja
24 / 54
±0 1st 6,670,377 42.1% Jaime Mayor Oreja
16 / 54
11px8 1st 4,098,339 26.1% Miguel Arias Cañete

Local councils

Local councils
Election Seats ± Size # of votes  % Leader
19,298 / 66,308
11px2,986 2nd 4,775,051 25.3% José María Aznar
24,772 / 65,869
11px5,474 1st 7,820,392 35.3% José María Aznar
24,623 / 65,201
11px149 1st 7,334,135 34.4% José María Aznar
23,615 / 65,510
11px1,008 2nd 7,875,762 34.3% José María Aznar
23,348 / 66,131
11px267 1st 7,916,075 35.6% Mariano Rajoy
26,507 / 68,230
11px3,159 1st 8,476,138 37.5% Mariano Rajoy
22,750 / 67,611
11px3,757 1st 6,057,767 27.1% Mariano Rajoy

See also

Further reading

  • Matuschek, Peter (2004). Steven Van Hecke; Emmanuel Gerard, eds. Who Learns from Whom? The Failure of Spanish Christian Democracy and the Success of the Partido Popular. Christian Democratic Parties in Europe Since the End of the Cold War (Leuven University Press). pp. 243–268. ISBN 90-5867-377-4. 


  1. ^ Gómez, Carolina (17 July 2013). "El censo del PP frena su crecimiento coincidiendo con el 'caso Bárcenas'". Cadena Ser. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
  3. ^ a b c Hloušek, Vít; Kopeček, Lubomír (2010), Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared, Ashgate, p. 159, From its original emphasis on a 'united and Catholic Spain', in the 1980s and 1990s it gradually evolved under the leadership of José Maria Aznar into a pragmatically-oriented conservative formation, with Christian democratic and, even more strongly, economically liberal elements. 
  4. ^ a b Wolfram Nordsieck. "Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe". Parties and elections. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Annesley, Claire (2005), A Political And Economic Dictionary Of Western Europe, Routledge, p. 260 
  6. ^ a b José María Magone (1 January 2003). The Politics of Southern Europe: Integration Into the European Union. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-275-97787-0. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Balibrea Enríquez, Mari Paz. Tiempo de exilio: Una mirada crítica a la modernidad española desde el pensamiento republicano en el exilio (in Spanish). p. 40. ISBN 9788496831469. 
  8. ^ Jansen, Thomas; Van Hecke, Steven (2011). At Europe's Service: The Origins and Evolution of the European People's Party. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 53. ISBN 9783642194146. The right-wing Conservative AP was now transformed into a party of the centre-right: it was renamed People's Party (Partido Popular, PP) in the spring of 1989. 
  9. ^ Newton, Michael T. (1997). Institutions of Modern Spain: A Political and Economic Guide. Cambridge University Press. p. 200. ISBN 9780521575089. Since the 're-launch' of 1989, the party has established itself clearly as a party of the centre-right... 
  10. ^ Meyer Resende, Madalena (2014). Catholicism and Nationalism: Changing Nature of Party Politics. Routledge. p. xix. ISBN 9781317610618. In 1989 the AP transformed into the Partido Popular (PP) – a coalition of center-right forces... 
  11. ^ Matuschek, Peter (2004). "Who Learns from Whom: The Failure of Spanish Christian Democracy and the Success of the Partido Popular". In Steven Van Hecke, Emmanuel Gerard. Christian Democratic Parties in Europe Since the End of the Cold War. Leuven University Press. p. 243. ISBN 9789058673770. 
  12. ^ Philip Arestis; Malcolm C. Sawyer (2001-01-01). The Economics of the Third Way: Experiences from Around the World. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 1843762838. Retrieved 2015-01-30. 
  13. ^ Omar G. Encarnación (2008-07-08). Spanish Politics: Democracy After Dictatorship. Polity. p. 60-64. ISBN 0745639925. Retrieved 2015-01-30. 
  14. ^ a b Cornelia Ilie (2010). European Parliaments Under Scrutiny: Discourse Strategies and Interaction Practices. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 332. ISBN 9027206295. Retrieved 2015-01-30. 
  15. ^ Sharon R. Roseman; Shawn S. Parkhurst (2008). Recasting Culture and Space in Iberian Contexts. SUNY Press. p. 121. ISBN 0791479013. Retrieved 2015-01-30. 
  16. ^ Vít Hloušek; Lubomír Kopeček (2010). Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 136–. ISBN 978-0-7546-7840-3. 
  17. ^ Jeff Haynes; Anja Hennig (3 July 2013). Religious Actors in the Public Sphere: Means, Objectives, and Effects. Routledge. pp. 18–. ISBN 978-1-136-66171-6. 
  18. ^ Svante Ersson; Jan-Erik Lane (28 December 1998). Politics and Society in Western Europe. SAGE. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-7619-5862-8. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  19. ^ "Rato called on the families who clean up their debts while the house rises 19% Economy Minister says "there is no housing bubble"". El País (in Spanish). 
  20. ^ Bloomberg. ""Average mortgage rates plunged to 3.5% in 2003 from 11% in 1995, sparking a real-estate boom." (Why Rato Smiles After Spanish Banks Proved No Amusing Failure)". 
  21. ^ "El Gobierno de Aznar acercó a 135 presos de ETA antes del diálogo". El Pais (in Spanish). 
  22. ^ "Basque Rebels in Spain Ending Cease-Fire After 14 Months". The New York Times. 29 November 1999. 
  23. ^ "Aznar: "ETA se equivoca de nuevo"". El Mundo (in Spanish). 
  24. ^ EU list of terrorist organizations PDF (43.6 KB) 29 May 2006
  25. ^ "Spain: new water plans to replace Ebro water transfer". E-Source. 16 June 2004. 
  26. ^ Perejil left again to the gulls and scorpions, The Telegraph, 22 July 2002
  27. ^ "El juez sigue el rastro de los millones de Bárcenas en otras dos cuentas de Suiza". El Pais. 16 January 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  28. ^ "El juez localiza en EE UU tres cuentas a las que Bárcenas transfirió 4,5 millones". El Pais. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  29. ^ "Las acusaciones de sobresueldos opacos desatan un vendaval en el PP". El Pais. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 

External links