Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Miguel Angel Asturias: 1899-1974: Writer to Don Berrysmith Biography - Grew up in the Pacific Northwest » Jose Maria Aznar: 1953—: Prime Minister of Spain Biography - Entered Conservative Politics, Assumed National Political Role, Steered Spain To Success, Tormented By Terrorism

Jose Maria Aznar: 1953—: Prime Minister of Spain - Steered Spain To Success

spanish economic country women

During his first four-year term as prime minister, Aznar made many astonishing gains. Unemployment, at an appalling 23% when he entered office, was reduced to 15%—still dismal, but a marked improvement. According to Europe, he did this "by generating 1.8 million jobs, more than were created in the rest of the other European Union nations combined." He also saw Spain's economic growth inch up to an average of 3.5% per year of his term. The previous rate was about 2%. He accomplished these economic leaps while slowly making steps to dismantle Spain's welfare state—a system near to the hearts of Spanish stalwarts. "He has continued to liberalise, while maintaining a remarkable degree of social peace," wrote The Economist. Another change Aznar made was the inclusion of women in some of the highest levels of the government. For a country that barely 30 years ago did not allow women to open their own bank account, Aznar's appointment of four women to his Cabinet is no less than radical. He also continued to court voters too young to remember the days of Franco.

For Spain, a country still self-conscious of its authoritarian past, its Civil War, and its history of economic instability, Aznar's achievements were a much-needed boost for the Spanish ego. An article in The Economist declared, "Spain under Mr. Aznar is riding high. It is a confident, modern-minded country that fights its corner in the European Union with vigour and effectiveness. Politically stable, economically prosperous, it is gaining respect in the world." Aznar also gained respect and in the 2000 elections the Partido Popular enjoyed a landslide, gaining a majority of the congressional seats and assuring Aznar another four years as prime minister. "The Spanish people have generously renewed and widened their confidence in us," Aznar was quoted in Europe, "and the attitude of this government is to be open to dialogue with all political and social forces because everyone wants to see Spain progress."

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