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José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

President of Spain

Born on 4th August 1960 in Valladolid, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero graduated in Law at the University of Leon and began his career as a lecturer in Constitutional Law at the same University.

He became a member of the PSOE in 1979 after hearing Felipe Gonzalez speak at a political rally. Rodriguez Zapatero's grandfather, Captain Juan Rodríguez, was shot in León in 1936 after refusing to support the decision of Franco and other generals to launch a military attack against Spain's legitimate republican Government. His family history is thought to have played a part in his political ideals.

Zapatero became General Secretary of the Socialist Federation of León and later served on the PSOE Federal Committee. At the XXXIV PSOE Congress he was elected to the Federal Executive Committee and in 1986 he was elected member of Parliament for León. During that Term he served on the Justice, Ombudsman, and Constitutional Committees and as Spokesman on the following Laws: The Function of Public Statistics, Demarcation of Court Jurisdictions, and Political Party Funding. The fact that he was one of Spain's youngest MPs ever (just 26) is seen as one of the reasons why, as party leader, he has always insisted giving a large percentage of party posts to young politicians.

He was re-elected member of Parliament in 1989, 1993, 1996 and 2000, and was elected General Secretary of the PSOE in July, 2000. His rival in the party elections was Jose Bono. Three years later Zapatero was elected Vice-President of the Socialist International during the XXII Congress of the Socialist International, Sao Paulo (Brasil) 2003.

On 14th March 2004 Zapatero led the PSOE party to victory in the Spanish elections and in April, he was elected President. For the first time ever in democratic Spanish politics, all opposition parties except for one (PP) voted in favour of the winning party's candidate for the presidency of Spain.

José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is known as "Zapatero" in Spain, despite the fact that his first surname is actually Rodriguez. He is married and has two daughters.

His wife, Sonsoles, sings in choirs and both she and her husband have asked the press to respect her and their daughters' privacy. She is not expected to have such a high profile in society and politics as her predecessor, Ana Botella.


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José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, President of Spain.
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