José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is the current Prime Minister of Spain (Presidente del Gobierno de España). A member of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español; PSOE), Zapatero is currently serving his second consecutive term of office: the first started on March 14th, 2004, and the second on March 9th, 2008 (referred to as 9-M by the media). The PSOE holds 168 of the 350 seats in the Spanish Parliament (Cortes). Born in 1960 and raised in León, Zapatero joined the PSOE party in 1979, two years after its legalisation. He later became Spain’s youngest MP in 1986, representing the region of León. Zapatero credits Felipe González (Prime Minister of Spain, 1982-1996) for influencing his decision to join the PSOE party in 1979, after he heard González speak at a 1977 rally. Zapatero was first elected Prime Minister three days after the 11-M terrorist bombings in Madrid.
Major achievements/decisions include the following:
- In April 2004, one of his first actions as Prime Minister was to withdraw every Spanish soldier (1,300 troops) from Iraq, an electoral promise that he completed in less than a month.
- Raising minimum wage by 4 percent as of January 1st, 2009.
- July 1st, 2005 saw the legalisation of same-sex marriages, including adoption rights, that were previously applicable only to heterosexual couples.
- An increase in diplomatic communication with Latin America as well as several European nations.
- Zapatero continues to address social issues, including education reforms, immigration and gender-motivated violence.