"25 Years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Peace is still the Task"
The Hon. President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (Former Prime Minister of Spain)

(Berlin; November 8th, 2014)

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The Hon. President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero

(Former Prime Minister of Spain)


José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (born 4 August 1960) is a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE). 

He was elected President of the Spanish Government, in the 2004 and 2008 general elections, gaining the support in both elections of more than eleven million voters. On 2 April 2011 he announced he would not stand for re-election in the 2011 general elections. He left office on 21 December 2011. He is currently a Member of the Spanish Council of State. 

Academic Career

President Zapatero studied Law at the University of León (Spain), graduating in 1982. He then worked as a teaching assistant in Constitutional Law at the University of León until 1986 (he continued working on a voluntary basis until 1991). 

Political Career

A PSOE militant since 1979, he was elected MP to the province of Leon in 1986 and was the youngest member of the Congress of Deputies. He was re-elected MP for León in 1989, 1993, 1996 and 2000. In 2004 and 2008 he was elected MP for Madrid.

During his time in Parliament, he served on the Justice, Ombudsman and Constitutional Parliamentary Committees and was Spokesperson for the Socialist Group in the Public Administrations Parliamentary Committee.

In 1988, he was elected Secretary General in Leon. In 1997, he was elected to the PSOE National Executive.

After running for the leadership, he was elected during the 35th Conference in July 2000 PSOE Secretary General and Leader of the Opposition until he became Prime Minister of Spain on 14 March 2004.

Zapatero’s main action in Government was focused on civic and social rights creation and extension, with legislative initiatives like the Integral Law against Gender Violence in 2004; Same Sex Marriage in 2005; Equality between Women and Men and the Dependency Laws in 2007 or the legislative reform of the Abortion Law in 2010. During his terms President Zapatero also achieved the terrorist group ETA’s cease of terrorist activity in October 2011. 

In economic terms and after achieving during his first term the lowest level of unemployment in Spain since the Transition, President Zapatero had to face the grave consequences of the international financial crisis in Spain and its transformation in Europe from spring 2010 onwards into the sovereign debt crisis. President Zapatero centred his efforts on the double objective of defending the solvency and autonomy of his country, preserving social cohesion in Spain, with measures like the extension of the unemployment subsidy. As the Spanish representative in the European Council, he participated in the adoption of decisive and pressing agreements during 2010-2011 to reinforce the economic union and guarantee the euro’s survival. 

Internationally, President Zapatero’s action started with the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq, a commitment he had made during his electoral campaign in 2004; the Alliance of Civilizations Initiative, co-sponsored with the Turkish Government and adopted as a UN Initiative in 2007; the creation of the International Commission against the Death Penalty of which he is an Honorary Member; or the consecution of the Permanent Guest Status for Spain in the G20 after the Forum emerged as a global answer to the international crisis in October 2008, in the Washington Summit.

"25 Years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Peace is still the Task"

The Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy 2014 (Berlin; November 9th, 2014)

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