People's Party (Spain)

The People's Party[17] (Spanish: Partido Popular [paɾˈtiðo popuˈlaɾ] (listen); known mostly by its acronym, PP [peˈpe]) is a conservative,[4][5] liberal-conservative,[18][19] Christian-democratic[5][6] political party in Spain.

People's Party

Partido Popular
PresidentPablo Casado
Secretary-GeneralTeodoro García Egea
Spokesperson in CongressCayetana Álvarez de Toledo
Spokesperson in SenateJavier Maroto
FounderManuel Fraga
Founded20 January 1989 (20 January 1989)
Merger ofAP, DC, PL
Preceded byPeople's Alliance
HeadquartersC/ Génova, 13
28004 Madrid, Spain
Youth wingNew Generations
Membership (2018) 66,706[1][2][3]
Christian democracy[5][6]
Liberal conservatism
Economic liberalism[5]
Political positionCentre-right[8][9][10][11] to right-wing[12][13][14][15]
European affiliationEuropean People's Party
International affiliationCentrist Democrat International
International Democrat Union
European Parliament groupEuropean People's Party
Colors     Sky blue
"Himno del Partido Popular"[16]
"Anthem of the People's Party"
Congress of Deputies
89 / 350
97 / 265
European Parliament
12 / 54
Local government (2019-2023)
20,336 / 67,611
Regional parliaments
335 / 1,268
Regional government
6 / 19

The People's Party was a re-foundation in 1989 of the People's Alliance (AP), a party led and founded by Manuel Fraga Iribarne, a former Minister of the Interior and Minister of Tourism during Francisco Franco's dictatorship. The new party combined the conservative AP with several small Christian democratic and liberal parties (the party call this fusion of views Reformist centre). In 2002, Manuel Fraga received the honorary title of "Founding Chairman". The party's youth organization is New Generations of the People's Party of Spain (NNGG).

The PP is a member of the center-right European People's Party (EPP), and in the European Parliament its 16 MEPs sit in the EPP Group. The PP is also a member of the Centrist Democrat International and the International Democrat Union. The PP was also one of the founding organizations of the Budapest-based Robert Schuman Institute for Developing Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.

On 24 May 2018, the National Court found that the PP profited from the illegal kickbacks-for-contracts scheme of the Gürtel case, confirming the existence of an illegal accounting and financing structure that ran in parallel with the party's official one since the party's foundation in 1989 and ruling that the PP helped establish "a genuine and effective system of institutional corruption through the manipulation of central, autonomous and local public procurement".[20][21] This prompted a no confidence vote on Mariano Rajoy's government, which was brought down on 1 June 2018 in the first successful motion since the Spanish transition to democracy.[22] On 5 June 2018, Rajoy announced his resignation as PP leader.[23][24]


Political genealogy

The party has its roots in the People's Alliance founded on 9 October 1976 by former Francoist minister Manuel Fraga. Although Fraga was a member of the reformist faction of the Franco regime, he supported an extremely gradual transition to democracy. However, he badly underestimated the public's distaste for Francoism. Additionally, while he attempted to convey a reformist image, the large number of former Francoists in the party led the public to perceive it as both reactionary and authoritarian. In the June 1977 general election, the AP garnered only 8.3 percent of the vote, putting it in fourth place.

In the months following the 1977 elections, dissent erupted within the AP over constitutional issues that arose as the draft document was being formulated. Fraga had wanted from the beginning to brand the party as a traditional European conservative party, and wanted to move the AP toward the political centre in order to form a larger centre-right party. Fraga's wing won the struggle, prompting most of the disenchanted reactionaries to leave the party. The AP then joined with other moderate conservatives to form the Democratic Coalition (Coalición Democrática, CD).

It was hoped that this new coalition would capture the support of those who had voted for the Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) in 1977, but who had become disenchanted with the Adolfo Suárez government. In the March 1979 general election, however, the CD received 6.1 percent of the vote, again finishing a distant fourth.

At the AP's Second Party Congress in December 1979, party leaders re-assessed their involvement in the CD. Many felt that the creation of the coalition had merely confused the voters, and they sought to emphasise the AP's independent identity. Fraga resumed control of the party, and the political resolutions adopted by the party congress reaffirmed the conservative orientation of the AP.

In the early 1980s, Fraga succeeded in rallying the various components of the right around his leadership. He was aided in his efforts to revive the AP by the increasing disintegration of the UCD. In the general elections held in October 1982, the AP gained votes both from previous UCD supporters and from the far right. It became the major opposition party to the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, securing 25.4 percent of the popular vote. Whereas the AP's parliamentary representation had dropped to 9 seats in 1979, the party allied itself with the small Christian democratic People's Democratic Party (PDP) and won 106 seats in 1982.

The increased strength of the AP was further evidenced in the municipal and regional elections held in May 1983, when the party drew 26 percent of the vote. A significant portion of the electorate appeared to support the AP's emphasis on law and order as well as its pro-business policies.

Subsequent political developments belied the party's aspirations to continue increasing its base of support. Prior to the June 1986 elections, the AP joined forces with the PDP and the Liberal Party (PL) to form the People's Coalition (CP), in another attempt to expand its constituency to include the centre of the political spectrum. The coalition called for stronger measures against terrorism, for more privatisation, and for a reduction in public spending and in taxes. The CP failed to increase its share of the vote in the 1986 elections, however, and it soon began to disintegrate.

When regional elections in late 1986 resulted in further losses for the coalition, Fraga resigned as AP chairman, although he retained his parliamentary seat. At the party congress in February 1987, Antonio Hernández Mancha was chosen to head the AP, declaring that under his leadership the AP would become a "modern right-wing European party". But Hernández Mancha lacked political experience at the national level, and the party continued to decline. When support for the AP plummeted in the municipal and regional elections held in June 1987, it was clear that it would be overtaken as major opposition party by Suarez's Democratic and Social Centre (CDS).

After the resignation of Manuel Fraga and the successive victories of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) in the general election of 1982 and 1986 general election, the Popular Alliance entered a period of deep crisis. Fraga then took the reins and, at the Congress of January 1989, the constituent parties of the CP were folded into a new party, the People's Party. While the AP was the nucleus of the merged party, the PP tried to bill itself as a more moderate party than the AP. Fraga was the first chairman of the party, with Francisco Álvarez Cascos as the secretary general.


Aznar years (1989–2004)

On 4 September 1989, and at the suggestion of Fraga himself, José María Aznar (then premier of the Autonomous Region of Castile and León) was named the party's candidate for Prime Minister of Spain at the general elections. In April 1990, Aznar became chairman of the party. Fraga would later be named Founding Chairman of the People's Party.

The PP joined the European People's Party in 1991.[25]

The PP became the largest party for the first time in 1996, and Aznar became Prime Minister with the support of the Basque Nationalist Party, the Catalan Convergence and Union and the Canarian Coalition. In the 2000 elections, the PP gained an absolute majority.

EU policy

The People's Party fiercely defended Spain's agricultural and fishery rights within the EU.

Foreign policy

Known to have a strong Atlanticist ideology, the People's Party fostered stronger ties to the US.

Rajoy years (2004–2018)

In August 2003, Mariano Rajoy was appointed Secretary General by Aznar. Thus, Rajoy became the party's candidate for Prime Minister in the 2004 general election, held three days after the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings, and which Rajoy lost by a big margin to Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

The PP under Mariano Rajoy opposed the PSOE government after the PP lost the general election in 2004, arguing that this victory was influenced by the Madrid bombings of 11 March 2004. At a national level, its political strategy has followed two main axes, both linked to Spain's delicate regional politics: Firstly, opposing further administrative devolution to Catalonia by means of the newly approved "Estatut" or Statute of Catalonia that lays out the powers of the Catalan regional government. Secondly, opposition to political negotiations with the Basque separatist organization ETA.

The People's Party has supported the Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT) with respect to the Government's actions concerning ETA's ceasefire, and was able to mobilise hundreds of thousands of people in demonstrations against Government policies that, in its opinion, would result in political concessions to ETA. Nevertheless, the end of the ceasefire in December 2006 ended prospects for government negotiations with ETA.

The prospect of increased demands for autonomy in the programs of Catalan and Basque parties, and Zapatero's alleged favouring of them, became a focus for the party's campaign for the March 2008 general election. Basque President Juan José Ibarretxe's proposal for a unilateral referendum for the solution of the Basque Conflict was another important issue.

The People's Party under Rajoy has an increasingly patriotic, or nationalist, element to it, appealing to the sense of "Spanishness" and making strong use of national symbols such as the Spanish flag. Prior to the national celebrations of Spanish Heritage Day, Rajoy made a speech asking Spaniards to "privately or publicly" display their pride in their nation and to honor their flag, an action which received some criticism from many political groups of the Congress.

2008 elections and convention

On 9 March 2008, Spain held a general election, with both main parties led by the same candidates who competed in 2004: 154 People's Party MPs were elected, up six on the previous election. However, the failure to close the gap with the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (which increased its number of MPs by five) provoked a party crisis, in which some internal groups and supportive media questioned the leadership of Rajoy, who was said to be close to resigning.

After an impasse of three days, he decided to stay, and summoned a Party Convention to be held in June 2008 in Valencia. Speculation about alternative candidates erupted in the media, with discussion of the possible candidacies of Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruíz Gallardón and Madrid autonomous community Premier Esperanza Aguirre creating a national debate, calls for support and opposition from the media, etc.

In the end neither one stood, with Gallardón explicitly backing Rajoy and Aguirre refusing to comment on the issue. The only politician who explicitly expressed his intention to stand was Juan Costa, who had been a minister under Aznar, but he was unable to garner the 20% support required to stand in the election because of the support Rajoy had received prior to his nomination. At the convention, Mariano Rajoy was re-elected chairman with 79% of the vote, and in order to "refresh the negative public image of the party", which had been a major factor in the electoral defeat, its leadership was controversially renewed with young people, replacing a significant number of politicians from the Aznar era.

Among the latter, most resigned of their own accord to make room for the next generation, like the PP Spokesman in the Congress of Deputies Eduardo Zaplana, replaced by Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría; and the party Secretary-General Ángel Acebes, whose office was taken by María Dolores de Cospedal.[lower-alpha 1]

The convention also saw significant reforms to the Party Statutes, including the reform of election to the office of Party Chairperson, which was to be open to more competition; and linking that office to the party candidacy in the general elections, etc. María San Gil, Chairwoman of the Basque PP, left the party (even resigning from her Basque Parliament seat) over disagreements on the party policies towards regional nationalisms in Spain, and particularly over the deletion of a direct reference to the Basque Nationalist Party accusing them of being too passive and "contemptuous" regarding the armed Basque group ETA. Most PP members rallied behind San Gil at first, but when it became clear that her decision was final the national leadership called a regional party election, in which Antonio Basagoiti was chosen as the new Basque PP leader.

The PP won a clear victory in the 2011 general elections, ousting the PSOE from government. With 44.62% of the votes, the conservatives won 186 seats in the Congreso de los Diputados, the biggest victory they have ever had. On the other hand, the center-left PSOE suffered a huge defeat, losing 59 MPs. The PP, under Mariano Rajoy's leadership, returned to power after 7 years of opposition.

In May 2018 the Audiencia Nacional declared the PP as guilty part "on a lucrative basis" in the Gürtel corruption scheme, understanding the organization profited from the corruption scheme "to the detriment of the State's interests".[26] This led to a motion of no confidence to the prime minister Mariano Rajoy, led by socialist leader Pedro Sánchez, which eventually succeeded, thus forcing Rajoy to quit his position, and ultimately resign as the party's leader. His substitute would be determined in July 2018.

Leadership of Casado (since 2018)

Pablo Casado's victory in the July 2018 PP leadership election was considered a party swing towards the right.[27]

Polls indicated a continual decline in support for the PP in the lead-up to the April 2019 general election. Ultimately, the party achieved the worst result in its history, winning just 16.7% of the national vote – a decline of almost 16% from the 2016 election – and losing over half its seats. Though becoming only the second largest party in the Congress of Deputies, it held almost half as many seats as first placed PSOE, and was less than a single percentage point and just nine seats ahead of third placed Ciudadanos.[28]

The party enjoined a partial revival in 2019 European elections, winning 20.15% of votes. The party increased its support in the November 2019 election, scoring 20,82% of votes and electing 89 deputies and 83 senators.

Political corruption scandals

Main article: (in Spanish) People's Party Corruption

Illegal financing

In early 2009 a scandal involving several senior members of the party came to the public's attention. The Gürtel case resulted in the resignation of the party's treasurer Luis Bárcenas in 2009. The case against him was dropped in July 2011 but reopened the following year.

The leader of the party in the Valencia region, Francisco Camps, stepped down in July 2011 because of a pending trial. He was accused of having received gifts in exchange for public contracts, but was found to be not guilty.

Bárcenas affair

In January 2013, the judges' investigation discovered an account in Switzerland controlled by Luis Bárcenas with 22 million euros[29] and another 4.5 million in the United States.[30] Allegations appeared in the media regarding the existence of supposed illegal funds of the PP, used for the undercover monthly payments to VIPs in the party from 1989 to 2009, including the former government presidents, Mariano Rajoy and José María Aznar.[31] The existence of such illicit funding has been denied by the PP.

Lezo Case

Judge Eloy Velasco instructing the Lezo Case in the Spanish National Court is investigating former President of the Community of Madrid, Ignacio González, former Work Minister, Eduardo Zaplana, Vice-councilor of the presidency of the Community of Madrid and implicated in Gürtel Case Alberto López Viejo, businessmen Juan Miguel Villa Mir (OHL) and PricewaterhouseCoopers among others for embezzlement of public funds to presumably finance People's Party (PP) campaigns in the Community of Madrid.[32]




Prime Ministers of Spain

Electoral performance

Cortes Generales

Cortes Generales
Election Leader Congress Senate Resulting government
# % Score Seats +/– Seats +/–
1989 José María Aznar 5,285,972 25.8 2nd
107 / 350
2[lower-alpha 2]
78 / 208
15[lower-alpha 2] PSOE minority
1993 8,201,463 34.8 2nd
141 / 350
93 / 208
15 PSOE minority
1996 9,716,006 38.8 1st
156 / 350
112 / 208
19 PP minority
2000 10,321,178 44.5 1st
183 / 350
127 / 208
15 PP
2004 Mariano Rajoy 9,763,144 37.7 2nd
148 / 350
102 / 208
25 PSOE minority
2008 10,278,010 39.9 2nd
154 / 350
101 / 208
1 PSOE minority
2011 10,866,566 44.6 1st
186 / 350
136 / 208
35 PP
2015 7,236,965 28.7 1st
123 / 350
124 / 208
12 New election
2016 7,941,236 33.0 1st
137 / 350
130 / 208
6 PP minority (2016–2018)
PSOE minority (2018–2019)
Apr-2019 Pablo Casado 4,373,653 16.7 2nd
66 / 350
54 / 208
76 New election
Nov-2019 5,047,040 20.8 2nd
89 / 350
83 / 208
29 TBD

European Parliament

European Parliament
Candidate Election # % Score Seats +/–
1989 Marcelino Oreja 3,395,015 21.4 2nd
15 / 60
2[lower-alpha 3]
1994 Abel Matutes 7,453,900 40.1 1st
28 / 64
1999 Loyola de Palacio 8,410,993 39.7 1st
27 / 64
2004 Jaime Mayor Oreja 6,393,192 41.2 2nd
24 / 54
2009 6,670,377 42.1 1st
24 / 54
2014 Miguel Arias Cañete 4,098,339 26.1 1st
16 / 54
2019 Dolors Montserrat 4,519,205 20.2 2nd
12 / 54

See also


  1. Also, María del Mar Blanco, sister of the PP councilor Miguel Ángel Blanco (who was assassinated by ETA in 1997), was elected into the new leadership to represent the Association of Victims of Terrorism.
  2. Compared to People's Coalition totals in the 1986 general election.
  3. Compared to People's Alliance totals in the 1987 European Parliament election.


  1. "Sólo 66.384 militantes del PP (el 7,6 %) se inscriben para votar al sucesor de Rajoy". El Confidencial (in Spanish). 26 June 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  2. "Solo el 7,6% de los afiliados del PP elegirán al sucesor de Rajoy". El País (in Spanish). 26 June 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  3. "El PP cierra en 66.706 el número de afiliados que finalmente votará en las primarias". El Economista (in Spanish). 4 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  4. Ersson, Svante; Lane, Jan-Erik (1998). Politics and Society in Western Europe (4th ed.). SAGE. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-7619-5862-8. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  5. Hloušek, Vít; Kopeček, Lubomír (2010). Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared. Ashgate. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-7546-7840-3. From its original emphasis on a 'united and Catholic Spain', in the 1980s and 1990s it gradually evolved under the leadership of José Maria Aznar into a pragmatically-oriented conservative formation, with Christian democratic and, even more strongly, economically liberal elements.
  6. Magone, José María (2003). The Politics of Southern Europe: Integration Into the European Union. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-275-97787-0.
  7. "Spain's King Juan Carlos abdicates to revive monarchy". 2 June 2014 via
  8. Jansen, Thomas; Van Hecke, Steven (2011). At Europe's Service: The Origins and Evolution of the European People's Party. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 53. ISBN 9783642194146. The right-wing Conservative AP was now transformed into a party of the centre-right: it was renamed People's Party (Partido Popular, PP) in the spring of 1989.
  9. Newton, Michael T. (1997). Institutions of Modern Spain: A Political and Economic Guide. Cambridge University Press. p. 200. ISBN 9780521575089. Since the 're-launch' of 1989, the party has established itself clearly as a party of the centre-right...
  10. Meyer Resende, Madalena (2014). Catholicism and Nationalism: Changing Nature of Party Politics. Routledge. p. xix. ISBN 9781317610618. In 1989 the AP transformed into the Partido Popular (PP) – a coalition of center-right forces...
  11. Matuschek, Peter (2004). "Who Learns from Whom: The Failure of Spanish Christian Democracy and the Success of the Partido Popular". In Steven Van Hecke, Emmanuel Gerard (ed.). Christian Democratic Parties in Europe Since the End of the Cold War. Leuven University Press. p. 243. ISBN 9789058673770.
  12. Ferreiro, Jesus; Serrano, Felipe (2001). Philip Arestis; Malcolm C. Sawyer (eds.). The economic policy of the Spanish Socialist governments: 1982–1996. The Economics of the Third Way: Experiences from Around the World. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 1843762838. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  13. Encarnación, Omar G. (2008). Spanish Politics: Democracy After Dictatorship. Polity. pp. 61–64. ISBN 0745639925. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  14. Íñigo-Mora, Isabel (2010). Cornelia Ilie (ed.). Rhetorical strategies in the British and Spanish parliaments. European Parliaments Under Scrutiny: Discourse Strategies and Interaction Practices. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 332. ISBN 9027206295. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  15. DiGiacomo, Susan M. (2008). Sharon R. Roseman; Shawn S. Parkhurst (eds.). Re-presenting the Fascist Classroom: Education as a Space of Memory in Contemporary Spain. Recasting Culture and Space in Iberian Contexts. SUNY Press. p. 121. ISBN 0791479013. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  16. "La historia en 'A' del himno del PP (VÍDEOS)". El Huffington Post. 6 May 2014.
  17. Ávila López, E. (2016) Modern Spain, p. 85 ISBN 978-1-61069-600-5
  18. Inmaculada Egido (2005). Transforming Education: The Spanish Experience. Nova Publishers. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-59454-208-4.
  19. Fernando Reinares (2014). "The 2004 Madrid Train Bombings". In Bruce Hoffman; Fernando Reinares (eds.). The Evolution of the Global Terrorist Threat: From 9/11 to Osama bin Laden's Death. Columbia University Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-231-53743-8.
  20. Jones, Sam (24 May 2018). "Court finds Spain's ruling party benefited from bribery scheme". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  21. Vázquez, Ángeles (24 May 2018). "El PP y Correa tejieron "un sistema de corrupción institucional", según la Audiencia". El Periódico de Catalunya (in Spanish). Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  22. "Mariano Rajoy Ousted in Spanish No-Confidence Vote". The New York Times.
  23. "Rajoy se va: "Es lo mejor para mí, para el PP y para España"". El Mundo (in Spanish). 5 June 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  24. "Rajoy dimite como presidente del PP: "Es lo mejor para mí, para el partido y para España"". El Confidencial (in Spanish). 5 June 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  25. Thomas Jansen; Steven Van Hecke (2011). At Europe's Service: The Origins and Evolution of the European People's Party. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 51. ISBN 978-3-642-19414-6.
  26. "El PP, primer partido en el Gobierno condenado por corrupción". El Periódico. 24 May 2018.
  27. "Spain: People's Party picks Pablo Casado as new leader". Al Jazeera. 21 July 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  28. "Spanish election: Socialists ahead without a majority as far-right party makes gains". ABC News. 29 April 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  29. Hernández, José Antonio (16 January 2013). "El juez sigue el rastro de los millones de Bárcenas en otras dos cuentas de Suiza". El Pais. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  30. Hernández, José Antonio (17 January 2013). "El juez localiza en EE UU tres cuentas a las que Bárcenas transfirió 4,5 millones". El Pais. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  31. Hernández, José Antonio (18 January 2013). "Las acusaciones de sobresueldos opacos desatan un vendaval en el PP". El Pais. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  32. "Operación Lezo | EL MUNDO". ELMUNDO (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 June 2017.

Further reading

  • Matuschek, Peter (2004). Steven Van Hecke; Emmanuel Gerard (eds.). Who Learns from Whom? The Failure of Spanish Christian Democracy and the Success of the Partido Popular. Christian Democratic Parties in Europe Since the End of the Cold War. Leuven University Press. pp. 243–268. ISBN 90-5867-377-4.
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