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PROFILE-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 3 May 2011 08:58 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Position: Prime Minister of Spain

Incumbent: Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

Date of birth: Aug 4, 1960

Term: Prime minister since April 2004 and reelected in 2008. The next election in Spain is scheduled for 2012.

Key Facts:

-- His ratings hammered by the highest unemployment rate in the European Union and a stagnant economy, Socialist Zapatero announced in April 2011 he would not run for a third term. He has been praised abroad for austerity measures and economic reforms that have persuaded investors that Spain can reduce its deficit and avoid the financial crises that have hit Greece, Ireland and Portugal. But the same measures made him unpopular at home.

-- Economic and fiscal crisis dominated most of Zapatero's second term. Earlier, his main initiatives were: the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq, a bill to liberalise abortion laws in the predominantly Catholic country, the legalisation of same-sex marriage and the reform of the Statute of Catalonia, an autonomous region in Spain.

-- He controversially started peace talks with the Basque separatist group ETA, which wants independence for Basque territories in Spain and France. However, he ended the negotiations after ETA bombed a Madrid airport parking lot, killing two people, in December 2006.

-- Apart from a stint as a teacher, Zapatero has devoted his entire life to politics, and was the youngest member of parliament when first elected in 1986.

-- The holder of a law degree, he is the country's fifth prime minister since democracy came to Spain in 1978 after a 36-year dictatorship under Francisco Franco that ended in 1975. (Writing by Alice Tozer; Editing by Nigel Davies and Paul Simao)

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