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
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.
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.