Aznar López, José María (hōzāˈ märēˈə äsˈnär lōˈpās) [key], 1953–, Spanish politician, prime minister of Spain (1996–2004), b. Madrid. Originally a lawyer and tax inspector, he joined the Popular Alliance, precursor of the conservative Popular party (PP) in 1978. Although rather reserved and solitary, he entered politics, was elected deputy for Ávila (1982–87) and president of Castile-León (1989). From 1990 to 2004, Aznar headed the PP, moving it toward more centrist positions. In 1995 he survived a car-bomb assassination attempt by Basque separatists. Losing the national elections of 1989 and 1993, he became prime minister after the elections of 1996, in which he promised economic austerity to reduce the national debt, inflation, and unemployment and policies to combat corruption, support private enterprise, and encourage expanded self-government for Spain's regions. Upon assuming office he moved to cut Spain's annual budget and began a program to privatize state-owned companies. The Spanish economy improved under his government, and in 2000 he led PP to a decisive victory at the polls. Aznar strongly supported U.S. president Bush's policies toward, and 2003 invasion of, Iraq, despite opposition to the war by the majority of Spain's people. Aznar did not run again in the 2004 elections, but his incorrect initial assertion that the ETA was behind the Mar., 2004, Madrid train bombings contributed to the PP loss in the balloting.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.