- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: Calm and cool under pressure
- Official Title: Prime Minister
- Government: Constitutional Monarchy
- Years Left in Office: Two years; reelection possible
- Political Classification: Center-right
- Education: Bachelor of Law from the University of Santiago de Compostela
- Age: 62 (born March 27, 1955)
Mariano Rajoy Facts and Information
- Mariano Rajoy’s success cannot be measured by Spain’s current economy; he was handed a mess!
- Rajoy is not popular in Spain at all. (He wants them to work!)
- Rajoy is trying to get away from his parties far right ideals to try and appeal to more people.
- Rajoy is seen as a boring and bland leader with no charisma to get his people excited about anything let alone coming out of a recession!
To understand what is going on with Spain today first we have to take a step back and look at its past! I mean, what the hell happened to it? We all know about how back in Columbus’ time it had the famed Spanish Armada and it was one of the leading world powers throughout the 15th and 16th centuries (Green). We also know that now it isn’t leading a whole lot of anything besides unemployment and debt! So how did all of this happen? How did Spain go from Latin American Hero to European Zero? Well to start off Spain came out of Roman rule doing pretty good. And by good I mean they controlled a lot of resources and a lot of land, and that is exactly why they were one of the European Powerhouses of the 15th-16th centuries. Up until the late 19th century Spain held almost all of the territory in Latin America besides Brazil, which was controlled by those pesky Portuguese. Then in the 1800’s the United States turned into a world powerhouse and it wanted to expand. So the U.S. began to claim protection on the land in South and Central America that Spain controlled and there was even a brief war, but the Spanish could not compete with the powerful United States and in 1898 Spain lost the last of its territory in the western hemisphere (Green).
After the Spanish lost their overseas empire things just started to go downhill. The 20th century in Spanish politics can be seen as a century filled with revolutions and political blunders. After years of frustration with the Spanish monarchy an army general named Francisco Franco led the revolution to overthrow the monarchy and bring about social reform to help the people. This is known as the Spanish Civil War and it lasted from 1936-1939 (Green). General Franco was victorious and he led Spain through a 40-year dictatorship that could be described as corrupt and damaging. Ever since then Spain has been a socialist society and that has led to over spending on government-funded programs that have in turn caused a lot of debt. The predecessor of Mariano Rajoy, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, caused many economic problems. He was in power when Spain’s recession began and when he left office Spain was in quite a mess (Catan). Spain is known as one of the European PIGS because all that they have done is borrow and borrow without paying anybody back! Wow! What a mess we have in Spain! Who would possibly want to try to bring them out of this mess going on?
Now let’s have a look at Spain’s current situation! They are most certainly going through some tough economic times, but who is the guy trying to get them out of the gutter? That would be 58 year old Mariano Rajoy, the Prime Minister of Spain. Rajoy was born on March 27, 1955 and he has spent his whole life working to become the person of power in Spanish politics (Sahagun). Rajoy graduated from the University of Santiago de Compostela with exam scores good enough to put him into the civil service sector of Spain’s workforce. He then married the love of his life Viri Fernandez and since then his political career has taken off! (The Business Year). At 26 Rajoy was elected as the regional deputy of the Popular Party and since then he has worked his way through the ranks to become the Minister of public administration, education, culture, and interior (Profile). Wow! He had done it all in politics until 2004 when he ran for Prime Minister as the leader of the People’s Party (PP). Rajoy and his party were expected to win the election in 2004, but horrific bombings struck Madrid right before the election and everybody went nuts and blamed the government for the attacks (Prensa). Instead of Rajoy winning the election the PP’s opposition, the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE), took the votes at the last second. But Rajoy continued forward with his rightist conservative party and in 2011 the PP won the election in Spain by a huge margin. Rajoy took Premiership on December 21, 2011 and ever since then we could describe his leadership as cover-ups and economic downfalls. (Encyclopedia).
Rajoy has done a lot of good for his party as he has brought it from the far right more towards the center. As leader of the PP Rajoy has enacted laws not allowing abortions for girls under the age of 16 and he is not the biggest fan of gay marriage either (Profile). Rajoy also has a strong stance on immigration. He has proposed laws that would limit Islamic immigrants from coming into the country and he also wants immigrants to leave the country if they have not found work within a year or if they have committed crimes (Man). He wants everybody else to get the hell out of his country so he can focus on helping his people! What does all of this mean for Spain socially speaking? Rajoy is bringing Spain back to its core values and he believes that hard work and austerity will help bring the economy and the state back to being a global force. Rajoy is shifting Spain from the liberal policies of the former party and he is bringing about new, stricter legislation to a struggling state.
Economically speaking Rajoy is all about cutting government spending and trying to get away from the socialist polices of before. Rajoy was given a mess when he took office and he has found it very difficult to clean it up. Spain’s unemployment rate hovers around 27% and people simply cannot find jobs (Charlemagne). Rajoy has been cutting subsidies to farmers and more importantly to electric companies. Because of the subsidies to power companies during the previous party’s rule there is a 26 billion euro deficit (Subsidy). Now that’s a lot of damn money! Rajoy has been forced to borrow and borrow and borrow some more while in power. Spain simply does not have enough money to pay all of its debts! This has brought a lot of scrutiny from the EU. Rajoy has been trying and trying to get extensions in order for Spain to meet economic standards. It has been impossible for him to get any closer to leaving the recession because Spain’s economy has contracted for the past 7 quarters (Benoit). There is really no hope in sight for Rajoy to get his economy back up and running unless he gets a lot of help from the European Bank, but even after a massive bailout nothing has really changed. One of Rajoy’s big plans is to help out smaller companies and to cut out bureaucracy involving companies trading throughout multiple regions (Benoit). It is time for Spain to turn the corner and get its economy back into shape. Time is running out and if nothing changes soon we could have another Greece on our hands!
Rajoy has also faced troubles internally while in office. In January of 2013 there was a leak in the media that reported that funds were given to members of the PP and Rajoy himself (Profile). Now wouldn’t that be something! Here Rajoy is sitting in the middle of a huge economic crisis and him and his associates are receiving a little extra cash on the side. But no worries, because Angela Merkel and the IMF supported Rajoy and his economic plan saying that it was going just fine and for everybody to stop worrying about the government cutbacks (Profile). As long as Rajoy can maintain his innocence he seems to be in the clear for now….
Foreign policy with Rajoy is something that is not of that much importance. Sure Rajoy wants Spain to be an influential power in Europe competing with the UK, Germany, and France, but with the whole economic crisis that he faces foreign policy is not the number one thing on his mind. Rajoy knows that he must suck up to Angela Merkel of Germany so he can get his hands on some of that money that she has stockpiled up. But other than that the only major foreign influence that he has lies in Latin America. Since Rajoy solo habla español, he can get in good with the people south of the border by offering them financial assistance (Post Zapatero). But since he does not even have enough money for his own country, the chances of him helping the Latinos out are slim to none. But we will see what happens. It will be interesting to see what kind of influence Spain has on Latin America once Rajoy leaves office.
Rajoy has a pretty big job as Prime Minister of Spain in that he can bring it back to an influential economic power or he can drive it right into the ground. He is going to have to piss a lot of Spaniards off trying to bring the economy back because he is going to have to cut government spending and make them work their way out of the crisis. The one thing that Rajoy has going for him is that he has Europe on his side, and by Europe I mean Germany. Germany has pretty much all of the money in Europe and so long as Rajoy can stay buddies with Angela Merkel he stands a good chance at getting some help. If Rajoy can bring Spain’s economy back he can turn Spain back into a powerhouse that would help Europe tremendously! Only time will tell if Rajoy and his right center friends in the PP can get some money back into the economy and get some people some jobs! For now they’ll just keep borrowing money and bullfighting! That’s all on Rajoy and Spain. Adios amigos!