Spain - Leadership

In 1996, Aznar spent six difficult weeks negotiating with regional party leaders before his inauguration as prime minister. He came to terms with Jordi Pujol and leaders of parties representing the Canary Islands and Valencia. Without the alliance he would not have been able to govern. Even the Basque Nationalist Party signed a formal agreement with the PP, giving Aznar's government a great deal of stability.

The PSOE, which won 140 seats in that election, was the principal opposition to the PP. Together with the United Left, they were expected to make Aznar's four years in office difficult at best. Plagued by internal difficulties and political scandals, the left never managed to cause problems for his government. Pujol, who relished his role as kingmaker, was more concerned with winning political and economic concessions for the Catalan region than creating problems for Aznar.

Political terms were quite different after the 2000 elections. With majority rule, Aznar won't have to seek any alliances with other parties to pursue his policies. Yet, Aznar was conciliatory during his victory speeches, saying he would seek the cooperation of other parties to push further reforms to Spain's economy. Aznar, who has been criticized for his conservative politics, stressed democratic themes in graciously accepting his victory. That may not be enough, however, with some sensitive issues that face the nation, including separatists in Basque country.

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