Zapatero, José Luis Rodríguez (hōsāˈ lōēˈ rôħrēˈgās säpätāˈrō) [key], 1960–, Spanish political leader, prime minister of Spain (2004–11), b. Valladolid. A Socialist and a lawyer, he taught law at the Univ. of Léon from 1982 to 1986, when he won a seat in the Cortes and became the youngest member of parliament. In 2000 he was elected leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers' party, replacing Felipe González. A youthful and sophisticated politician, he moved the Socialists closer to the center and led them to victory in the 2004 elections, when voters turned against the Popular party after terrorist bombings in Madrid. In office, Zapatero oversaw the enactment of liberal social laws, including the legalization of homosexual marriage, and the devolution of increased powers to Spain's regions. Zapatero and the Socialists remained in power after the 2008 elections. The effects of the subsequent financial crisis forced the government to adopt an austerity budget by 2010, and Zapatero did not lead the party in the 2011 elections, which the Socialists lost.
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