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Don José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero en el Foro Económico Mundial (recortada).jpg
Prime Minister of Spain
In office
17 April 2004 – 21 December 2011
Monarch Juan Carlos I of Spain
Deputy María Teresa Fernández de la Vega
Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba
Elena Salgado
Preceded by José María Aznar
Succeeded by Mariano Rajoy
Leader of the Opposition
In office
1 July 2000 – 17 April 2004
Prime Minister José María Aznar
Preceded by Joaquín Almunia
Succeeded by Mariano Rajoy
Member of the Congress of Deputies
In office
14 March 2004 – 20 November 2011
Constituency Madrid
In office
22 June 1986 – 14 March 2004
Constituency León
Personal details
Born 4 August 1960 (1960-08-04) (age 61)
Valladolid, Spain
Political party Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Spouse(s) Sonsoles Espinosa (1990–present)
Children Laura
Alma mater University of León

Don José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (; born 4 August 1960 in Valladolid) is a Spanish politician. He was elected for two terms as Prime Minister of Spain. This was in the 2004 and 2008 general elections. On 2 April 2011 he said he would not stand for re-election. His party is the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE).

He left the office on 21 December 2011. He was succeeded by Mariano Rajoy. He left the PSOE's Secretary General chair on 4th February 2012 to Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. On 9th February he entered the Spanish Council of State. He was also named President of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, a Berlin-based organization.

On 12 October 2003, during the Fiesta Nacional de España military parade held in Madrid, then opposition leader and presidential candidate Zapatero remained seated as a U.S. Marine Corps honour guard carrying the American flag walked past Zapatero and other VIPs. Everybody else stood as with the rest of the foreign guest armies representations. He declared afterwards that his action was a protest against the war and certainly not intended as an insult to the American people.

One of the first measures he carried out as soon as he took office was to withdraw every Spanish soldier fighting in Iraq, calling the invasion of that country "an error based on lies". In less than a month, his nation's 1,300 troops were withdrawn from Iraq. The relations between Zapatero and former U.S. president George W. Bush were difficult, mostly as a result of Zapatero's opposition to the war in Iraq.

Other main actions taken by the Zapatero administration were the increase of Spanish troops in Afghanistan; the idea of an Alliance of Civilizations; the legalisation of same-sex marriage; reform of abortion law; a peace negotiation attempt with ETA; increase of tobacco restrictions; and the reform of various autonomous statutes, particularly the Statute of Catalonia.

Family background

Dmitry Medvedev at the G8 Summit - 10 July 2009-1
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at the G8 Summit 2009

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was born in Valladolid, Castile and León, to Juan Rodríguez y García-Lozano (born 1928), a lawyer, and María de la Purificación Zapatero Valero (Tordehumos, Valladolid, 1927 – Madrid, 30 October 2000). He grew up in León, where his family originated.

His paternal grandfather, Juan Rodríguez y Lozano (28 July 1893 – Puente Castro, León, 18 August 1936), was a Republican captain, executed by Francisco Franco's National army a month into the Spanish Civil War, for refusing to fight with them. His whereabouts were revealed by fascists in Valladolid.

The memory of Republican Captain Rodríguez y Lozano was also kept alive by his last will, handwritten 24 hours before facing the firing squad, and which can be considered a final declaration of principles.

The will was comprised of six parts, the first three passing his possessions on to his heirs; the fourth, in which he asked for a civil burial and, the fifth, in which he requested his family to forgive those who had tried and executed him and proclaiming his belief in the Supreme Being. In the sixth, Zapatero's grandfather asked his family to clear his name in the future as his creed consisted only in his "love for peace, for good and for improving the living conditions of the lower classes".

Studies and teaching

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero e Sonsoles Espinosa
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and his wife the singer Sonsoles Espinosa 2007

He studied Law at the University of León, graduating in 1982. His performance as a student was above average before his pre-University year. After graduating, Zapatero worked as a teaching assistant in constitutional law at the University of León until 1986 (he continued working some hours a week without pay until 1991). He has declared that the only activity that attracts him besides politics is teaching or, at most, academic research.

Having received successive postponements because of his conditions as a university student and a teaching assistant, Zapatero did not do the compulsory military service. As an MP he was finally exempted.

Personal life

Rodríguez Zapatero met Sonsoles Espinosa in León in 1981. They married on 27 January 1990 and have two daughters named Laura (b. 1993) and Alba (b. 1995).

Zapatero is a supporter of FC Barcelona.

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