(b. 4 Aug. 1960).
Prime Minister of Spain, 2004– Born in Valladolid, he joined the socialist party (PSOE) in 1979, and studied law at the University of Leon. He was first elected to parliament in 1986, and became secretary general of his party for the Leon region in 1988. After González vacated the party chairmanship in 1996, the dramatic defeat of the PSOE in the 2000 elections created an opportunity for him to become party leader. Youthful and energetic, he criticized Aznar's foreign policy, and vowed to recall Spanish troops from Iraq. The Madrid Bombings unexpectedly brought foreign policy to the top of the political agenda, and focused the electorate on the integrity of the party leaders. Zapatero won a surprise victory at the 2004 elections, and initiated a string of far‐reaching social reforms. These included the legalization of same‐sex unions, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, a more supportive attitude towards EU integration, and support for greater regional autonomy. As a result, Catalonia was accepted as a distinct nation with greater domestic powers, though its nationhood was defined in close relation to Spain.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).