Mariano Rajoy

Mariano Rajoy

Mariano Rajoy 2017c (cropped).jpg
Former Prime Minister of Spain
Incumbent
Assumed office
21 December 2011
Monarch
Deputy Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría
Preceded by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
President of the People’s Party
Incumbent
Assumed office
2 October 2004
Deputy

Ángel Acebes (2004–08)

María Dolores de Cospedal (2008–present)

Preceded by José María Aznar
Leader of the Opposition
In office
16 April 2004 – 21 December 2011
Monarch Juan Carlos I
Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
Preceded by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
Succeeded by Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba
Secretary General of the People’s Party
In office
4 September 2003 – 2 October 2004
President José María Aznar
Preceded by Javier Arenas
Succeeded by Ángel Acebes
First Deputy Prime Minister of Spain
In office
27 April 2000 – 4 September 2003
Prime Minister José María Aznar
Preceded by Francisco Álvarez Cascos
Succeeded by Rodrigo Rato
Spokesperson of the Government
In office
10 July 2002 – 4 September 2003
Prime Minister José María Aznar
Preceded by Pío Cabanillas Gallas
Succeeded by Eduardo Zaplana
Minister of the Presidency
In office
10 July 2002 – 4 September 2003
Prime Minister José María Aznar
Preceded by Juan José Lucas
Succeeded by Javier Arenas
In office
27 April 2000 – 27 February 2001
Prime Minister José María Aznar
Preceded by Francisco Álvarez Cascos
Succeeded by Juan José Lucas
Minister of the Interior
In office
27 February 2001 – 10 July 2002
Prime Minister José María Aznar
Preceded by Jaime Mayor Oreja
Succeeded by Ángel Acebes
Minister of Education and Culture
In office
19 January 1999 – 27 April 2000
Prime Minister José María Aznar
Preceded by Esperanza Aguirre
Succeeded by Pilar del Castillo (Education, Culture and Sport)
Minister of Public Administration
In office
6 May 1996 – 19 January 1999
Prime Minister José María Aznar
Preceded by Joan Lerma
Succeeded by Ángel Acebes
Vice President of Galicia
In office
4 November 1986 – 26 September 1987
President Xerardo Fernández Albor
Preceded by Xosé Luis Barreiro
Succeeded by Xosé Luis Barreiro
Member of the Congress of Deputies
Incumbent
Assumed office
20 November 1989
Constituency Madrid
In office
7 July 1986 – 4 December 1986
Constituency Pontevedra
 spanish names 
Personal details
Born Mariano Rajoy Brey
(1955-03-27) 27 March 1955 
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Political party Spanish National Union (1970s)
People’s Alliance (Before 1989)
People’s Party (1989–present)
Spouse(s) Elvira Fernández Balboa (1996–present)
Children 2
Residence Palace of Moncloa
Alma mater University of Santiago de Compostela
Signature

Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spanish: [maˈɾjano raˈxoi ˈβɾei])  is a Spanish politician and Prime Minister of Spain since 2011, during the X and XII legislatures.

He became leader of the People’s Party in 2004 and Prime Minister in 2011 following the People’s Party landslide victory in that year’s general election becoming the sixth president of the Spanish democracy. His party lost their majority in the 2015 general election, but after that election ended in deadlock, a second election in 2016 enabled Rajoy to be re-elected prime minister as head of a minority government.

Rajoy was a Minister under the José María Aznar administration, occupying different leading roles in different Ministries between 1996 and 2003, and he also was the Deputy Prime Minister between 2000 and 2003. He was the Leader of the Opposition between 2004 and 2011 under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s government.

Early life and education

Born 27 March 1955 in Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Galicia, Rajoy is the grandson of Enrique Rajoy Leloup, one of the architects of the Statute of Autonomy of Galicia in 1932, who was removed from university teaching by the dictatorship in the early 1950s. He is the son of Mariano Rajoy Sobredo, a jurist, and president of the Provincial Court of Pontevedra, the city where he grew up.

Later on, his father was transferred to León and the whole family moved there. He was duly enrolled, together with his brothers Luis and Enrique, and spent ten years there before moving to the Jesuit school in Vigo. After finishing secondary school he started university, enrolling in the Law Faculty in Santiago de Compostela.

Rajoy graduated from the University of Santiago de Compostela and passed the competitive examination required in Spain to enter into the civil service, becoming the youngest-ever property registrar at age 23.

He was assigned to Padrón (A Coruña), Villafranca del Bierzo (León) and Santa Pola (Alicante), a position he still holds. In that year, Mariano Rajoy sustained facial injuries in a traffic accident. Since then, he has always worn a beard to cover the scars from these injuries.

Rajoy married Elvira “Viri” Fernández Balboa on 28 December 1996, in La Toja island (Pontevedra). The couple have two children.

While on the campaign trail in 2011, Mariano Rajoy published his autobiography, En Confianza (In Confidence).

Legislative career

Early political career

Earlier member of the Spanish National Union (UNE), Rajoy joined the right-wing party People’s Alliance (AP), becoming a deputy in the inaugural legislature of the Galician Parliament in 1981. In 1982, he was appointed by Galician regional President, Xerardo Fernández Albor, as Minister of Institutional Relations of the Xunta de Galicia. On 11 June 1986, Mariano Rajoy was elected President of the Provincial Council of Pontevedra, a position he held until July 1991.

In the General Elections of 22 June 1986, he won a seat in the Congress of Deputies as the head of the AP’s list for Pontevedra, although he resigned in November to take up the post of vice-president of the Xunta of Galicia following the resignation of Xosé Luis Barreiro and the rest of the ministers. He occupied this latter position until the end of September 1987. In May 1988 he was elected General Secretary of the PA in Galicia during an extraordinary congress of the regional party.

When in 1989 the AP merged with other parties to form the People’s Party (PP), with Manuel Fraga as its president, Mariano Rajoy was named a member of its National Executive Committee and delegate for Pontevedra. He was reelected to parliament in 1993. Before the PP’s triumph in the 1996 elections, he was a PP-designated member of the Commission of Parliamentary Control of the RTVE.

In April, the former president of Castile and León and presidential candidate of the government general elections in 1989, José María Aznar, was elected president of the PP. Confirmed in the National Executive, Mariano Rajoy was appointed deputy secretary general of the party. He was re-elected in Pontevedra in the election on 6 June 1993.

Ministerial career (1996–2003)

On 3 March 1996, the PP won the early parliamentary elections and formed a government with the support of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), Convergence and Union (CiU) and the Canarian Coalition. Rajoy, a long-time associate of newly elected Prime Minister José María Aznar, made the move into national politics in Aznar’s first government when he was appointed Minister of Public Administration on 6 May. His term was marked by the adoption, in 1997, of the Law on organization and operation of the general administration of the State (LOFAGE), which regulates the organization and functions of central government, and the Law on Government.

He changed his portfolio on 20 January 1999 and replaced Esperanza Aguirre as Minister of Education and Culture. Just after his appointment, he was reelected vice-secretary general of the PP during its thirteenth national conference.

In 2000 he led the People’s Party election campaign for the elections on 12 March, in which they won absolute majority. On 28 April 2000, Mariano Rajoy was appointed Senior Vice President of Government and Minister of the Presidency.

Less than a year later, on 28 February 2001, Mariano Rajoy replaced Jaime Mayor Oreja, candidate for President of the Government of the Basque Country, as Interior Minister. In this role, he passed legislation including the Organic Law on the right of association, approved the decree implementing the Organic Law on the rights and duties of foreigners, and presented the draft law on the prevention of alcoholism.

In the major cabinet reshuffle of 9 July 2002, he became minister of the presidency, retained his vice presidency and was appointed spokesman of the government. In his new role, he faced two very difficult times of Aznar’s second term: the Prestige oil tanker disaster off the coast of Galicia, and the participation of Spain in the Iraq War, at the request of George W. Bush.

Approached, with Rodrigo Rato and Jaime Mayor Oreja, to succeed José Maria Aznar at the direction of the PP and as presidential candidate of the government in the 2004 general elections, he was chosen as future PP leader on 1 September 2003 and left the government two days later.

Leader of the People’s Party

On 30 August 2003, Aznar announced that he would retire from politics in the 2004 elections and proposed Mariano Rajoy as his successor. After the 14th Congress of the People’s Party in October 2004, Rajoy became the new Chairman of the party, by then in the opposition, having lost the elections to the PSOE.

Leader of the Opposition (2004–11)

Mariano Rajoy during a party meeting in Bilbao, 2005
Mariano Rajoy during a party meeting in Bilbao, 2005

On 11 March 2004, three days before the 2004 general elections, Madrid was struck by terrorist attacks, which the government initially blamed on the armed Basque separatist organisation, ETA. Aznar’s government and government party leaders insisted on accusing ETA of the attacks, and on 13 March, Mariano Rajoy claimed to believe this because he was convinced of their will and capability for committing such crimes. The government was accused of attempting to blame ETA for the attacks in order to stay on track to win the elections (as they were favored to do), but then the Prisa center-left media company broke news that Al‑Qaida, rather than ETA, was responsible.

Rajoy with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel in March 2007
Rajoy with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel in March 2007

On 14 March 2004 the PSOE, under the leadership of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, won the elections with a majority of 1,300,000 votes over the PP, and obtained 164 deputies, while the PP obtained 9,763,144 votes but 148 deputies, 35 less than they obtained in 2000. Mariano Rajoy was elected for the province of Madrid.

Rajoy at the EPP convention on climate change in February 2008
Rajoy at the EPP convention on climate change in February 2008

On 1 December 2005, Rajoy survived a helicopter accident, along with Madrid Regional Government President Esperanza Aguirre; he broke a finger in the accident.

Rajoy faced a serious situation within his party when he came under public pressure from the electorally successful Alberto Ruiz Gallardón (Madrid’s Mayor) to be included in the PP lists for the March 2008 general election. Gallardón represents a more centrist sector within the party, whereas Mariano Rajoy, Angel Acebes and Eduardo Zaplana are widely accepted as representing a more conservative wing of the party, closer to Aznar. Rajoy’s final decision was to leave Gallardón out of the list for those elections, an action which provoked concern about the alienation of potential PP voters. Some experts and newspapers even argued that it could cost Rajoy the elections. In any case, the power struggle for succession created a tense situation for him and for the party.

On 30 January 2008, Rajoy received the support of Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy for the March 2008 general election. The PP was defeated in the general election, however, and Mariano Rajoy continued to lead his party in opposition.

His criticisms of the Zapatero administration were focused on what he perceived as:

  • The derogation of ambitious plans of the previous executive
  • The Plan Hidrológico Nacional (National Hydrological Plan)
  • The LOCE Organic Law on the Quality of Education
  • The alleged “unnecessary” statutory reforms which devolved competences to the autonomous communities, such as submitted in the Catalan, and Andalusian referendums with low turn-outs. According to Rajoy, some of those reforms constituted concealed changes of the autonomous communities towards a confederation, endangering the integrity of the State
  • Zapatero’s view of Spain, which, Rajoy proposed, would require a reform of the Spanish Constitution. Such a reform that would need approval in a national referendum.
  • The alleged weakness facing the peace process opened as a result of the permanent ceasefire declared by ETA on 30 December 2006, broken by the Madrid Barajas International Airport bombing and arms robbery
  • The legalization of abortion until 14 weeks of pregnancy, a law that Mariano Rajoy considered “criminal” and against the will of large sectors of the Spanish society

In foreign policy:

  • The alleged cold relations with United States and Poland.
  • The alliances with Latin American left-wing leaders: Hugo Chávez, from Venezuela, Fidel Castro, from Cuba and Evo Morales, from Bolivia.

Electoral campaigns

2011

The 2011 general election campaign was dominated by economic issues. “Election campaign begins, crushed by the economic situation”, was the headline in El Pais on 2 September 2011; the same day, El Mundo claimed that “the unemployment election campaign [had begun]”. The high rate of unemployment was a major issue in the campaign. Close to 5 million people were out of work at the time of the election, and 1.5 million households had no wage earners.

Rajoy slammed Spain’s unemployment rate as “unbearable and unacceptable” as data showed 4,350 people per day losing their jobs in October 2011. The Socialists, he said, “did not know how to manage Spain’s economy, and now the Spanish people are paying the price for that”. He promised he would shepherd Spain out of its crisis and recover the shaky confidence of international investors and reduce the government’s ominously high borrowing costs. The debt crisis in Greece had raised concerns over the solvency of other weak economies like Spain. The PP campaign slogan called on voters to “Join the change!” and the party manifesto stressed its commitment to cutting the country’s budget deficit in line with EU requirements. It proposed tax breaks for savers and small firms who hired staff; benefits for those who took on young employees; more flexible labour contracts and wage negotiations and major cuts in red tape, to encourage entrepreneurs to set up businesses. At the same time, it pledged to protect public healthcare and education, saving money through efficiency and better management.

Anti-TTIP protests in Barcelona, 18 April 2015
Anti-TTIP protests in Barcelona, 18 April 2015

2015

On 16 December 2015, four days before elections, Mariano Rajoy was punched in the head by a boy while in Pontevedra in his native Galicia. The boy was arrested.

Premiership (2011-since)

In November 2011, Rajoy’s right-wing People’s Party won its biggest majority since the country’s return to representative democracy in the 1970s, securing 186 out of the 350 seats in the lower house of Parliament. Voters turned to him in hopes of alleviating the pain of Europe’s debt crisis. Following the general election held in 2011, Rajoy was elected Prime Minister by the Congress of Deputies on 21 December 2011.

Inauguration

Rajoy, designated candidate for Prime Minister of the government of King Juan Carlos I, appeared before the Congress of Deputies on 19 December 2011. He stated that to achieve the objective of a deficit of 4.4% of GDP in 2012, an investment of 16.5 billion euros would be needed. He added that his only increased public spending would be the revaluation of pensions, beginning 1 January 2012, and that he would not create any new jobs in the public sector, except for security forces. He stated an intention “to reduce the size of the public sector” and also wanted to reform public holidays so as to avoid encouragement of popular four-day weekends. This would be accomplished by incorporating the use of the nearest Monday for most public holidays. He also announced his desire to end the practice of early retirement.

Rajoy was chosen by Parliament two days later with 187 votes in favor, 149 votes against and 14 abstentions, receiving the support of the People’s Party, the Forum of Asturias (FAC) and the Navarrese People’s Union (UPN), with Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), Convergence and Union (CiU), the United Left (IU) and Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) dissenting. The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), the coalition Amaiur and the Canary Coalition (CC) abstained. He was appointed a few hours later as Prime Minister by Juan Carlos I and sworn in the next day at the Zarzuela Palace, before the King and Queen, Zapatero, the outgoing prime minister, and the Presidents of the Cortes Generales, and others.

First days

Rajoy’s government was formed on 21 December 2011 with thirteen ministers—the lowest number in Spanish democratic history. Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, Vice President of the Government, Minister of the Presidency, and government spokesperson, and Ana Pastor Julián, Minister of Equipment, were appointed. The Ministries of Culture, Science, and Territorial Policy were ended, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance was split into two new ministries. The Ministry of Agriculture and Environment was kept intact, despite statements made by Rajoy speech before Congress that indicated the opposite intention. Among the ministers, Cristóbal Montoro Romero, Minister of Finance, and Miguel Arias Cañete, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment, had been members of the previous Aznar government and continued to occupy the same posts.

Spending cuts

On 30 December 2011, the Council of Ministers approved a cuts plan (called an austerity plan) amounting to 8.9 billion euros in savings and €6.2 billion in new revenues. Salaries of public workers were frozen, the workweek in public administration was reduced to 37.5 hours, and recruitment of new public employees was halted, except in the areas of security, health and education. A program that provided rent assistance for young people was ended, and the minimum wage was frozen—something that had not happened since 1966. The income tax and tax on real estate was also increased for 2012 and 2013. Pensions were adjusted up 1%, however, and the tax deduction for the purchase of homes was reinstated. The premium of 400 euros for the long-term unemployed (due to a lack of industry) at the end of law was maintained but only for those registered as job seekers with the public employment service for at least 12 months out of the previous 18 and whose income amounts were less than three quarters of the net minimum wage. A 4% value-added tax was expanded to include new home purchases.

Lawsuit

On 4 January 2013 the association Democracia Real Ya (DRY), created after the 15 May 2011 protest movement, brought charges against Mariano Rajoy and another 62 deputies (including four ministers) before the Supreme Court, accusing them of diversion of public funds and misappropriation. Mariano Rajoy was accused of receiving a subsistence allowance despite the fact that he was living in the Moncloa Palace in Madrid. The lawsuit before the Supreme Court was a consequence of the data which had appeared in the media providing information about several deputies who had houses in Madrid but at the same time were receiving extra funds for lodging. According to the association DRY, these representatives, who could be lodged at no cost to the public purse, were paid a monthly subsistence allowance valued at 1,823.36 euros. Furthermore, if they had been elected by the constituency of Madrid and had a house in this city, they were allowed 870 euros per month to cover accommodation and food expenses resulting from the exercise of their functions that, with respect to Mariano Rajoy , were already covered – from the state budget – in the Moncloa Palace. DRY therefore accused them of diversion of public funds and misappropriation. Additionally, DRY demanded that they return all the money that didn’t belong to them, particularly bearing in mind that “the cuts are making most Spaniards’ life a misery”.

On 24 April 2013, having found no irregularity in the existing regulation and discarding the existence of constituents elements of offense, the Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit.

Corruption scandals

Demonstration in front of the People's Party headquarters protesting against the Barcenas' affair (2 February 2013).
Demonstration in front of the People’s Party headquarters protesting against the Barcenas’ affair (2 February 2013).

The newspaper El País published in its 30 January 2013 edition a series of documents, under the title of “Bárcenas’ secret papers”, referring to the accounts of the conservative party from 1999 to 2009. According to those hand-written documents, Mariano Rajoy and María Dolores de Cospedal had received extra payments in “black” money from the former treasurer of the People’s Party, Luis Bárcenas. These documents state that both Bárcenas and his predecessor, Álvaro Lapuerta, managed cash donations from businessmen and private builders (three of whom are additionally accused in the Gürtel case), cited as sources of undeclared income of the PP. Expenditure included, apart from allocations for the effective functioning of the party, payments made to members of the leadership of the party during those years with no explicitly stated purpose. Barcenas’ accounts show yearly payments of 25,200 euros for 11 years to the President, in addition to smaller amounts for a total estimated at 33,207 with purposes such as “Mariano’s suits”, “Mariano’s ties”, or “M.R.’s suits”. PP Secretary-General María Dolores de Cospedal also appears in the papers of these payments, as well as other leaders, such as former ministers Javier Arenas, Jaime Mayor Oreja and Francisco Álvarez-Cascos

By 7 February, just one week after publication of the documents, one million people had signed a petition launched by the organization Change.org asking for the immediate resignation of Mariano Rajoy.

On 8 July, the center-right newspaper El Mundo, usually a support of the Popular Party, published a four-hour interview with Luis Bárcenas, which had taken place a few days before he was put behind bars on 27 June,in which the former party treasurer revealed that the People’s Party had been illegally financed for 20 years.The following day, the same newspaper published the originals of Barcenas’ papers which reflected overpayments to Mariano Rajoy in 1997, 1998 and 1999, when he was a minister in the Aznar cabinet. These payments violated the Incompatibilities Act of 1995. On 14 July, El Mundo published several text messages between Rajoy and Bárcenas, the latest dating from early 2013, after the discovery of Bárcenas’ bank accounts in Switzerland and after some media had pointed to illegal payments within the PP. In those messages, Rajoy expressed his support to Bárcenas and asked him to keep quiet.

In light of these new revelations, High Court judge Pablo Ruz summoned Bárcenas to appear before him on 15 July. In this new appearance, Bárcenas admitted the payment of 50,000 euros in 2010 to Rajoy and Dolores de Cospedal. As a result of the scandal, all the opposition parties urged Rajoy to give an explanation to parliament, with the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party threatening him with a censure motion should he refuse to come out and explain himself, and demanding his immediate resignation.

In his appearance before Congress, on 1 August, Rajoy admitted that he had made “a mistake” in trusting Bárcenas and criticised the opposition for trying to “criminalize” him by believing the word of an “offender”, stating that he wasn’t resigning nor calling new elections. Mariano Rajoy also stated that Bárcenas was no longer a member of the PP when he, Rajoy, was appointed prime minister (in December 2011). However, in 11 August, El Mundo published a paysheet, dated May 2012, issued by the PP for the ex-treasurer, as well as a letter sent by Bárcenas himself to Rajoy in April 2010 (just a few days after he [Bárcenas] had been officially “removed” from his duties as treasurer) informing Rajoy of his “re-incorporation” in the party.

Supporters of Catalan independence
Supporters of Catalan independence

2015 general election and deadlock

The 2015 general election was held on 20 December, the latest possible day. The result was that the People’s Party remained the most voted-for party, but it lost 64 of its 187 seats and thus its majority. The election produced a fragmented parliament and an uncertain political situation that led to another election in 2016, as neither Rajoy nor the left-wing opposition could form a coalition government.

2016 general election

In the general election of 26 June 2016, the PP increased its number of seats in parliament, while still falling short of an overall majority. Eventually on 29 October Rajoy was re-appointed as prime minister, after the majority of the PSOE members abstained in the parliamentary vote rather than oppose him.

In February 2016, Rajoy was declared ‘persona non grata’ of Pontevedra, his adopted city, because of his cabinet’s decision to extend the operating license of a controversial cellulose factory by 60 years (see List of people declared persona non grata).

2017 witness and no confidence-motion

On 26 July, Rajoy is due to appear as a witness in the Gürtel corruption case. This situation prompted a no-confidence motion against Rajoy’s government, which was debated on 13 June and defeated as expected on 14 June.

Political positions

Social issues

Bullfighting

Rajoy is a strong defender of bullfighting. He has said that “the tradition is an art form deeply rooted in Spanish history”. He lifted the ban on live bullfights on state-run TV and they are once again shown in the traditional 6 pm slot on TVE.

Foreign policy

Scottish independence

Scotland held a referendum on independence from the UK on 18 September 2014. In November 2013, Rajoy stated that an independent Scotland would have to reapply for membership of the European Union, causing considerable irritation to the Scottish Government and criticism that Rajoy was interfering in the internal affairs of another state. Relations between the Spanish and Scottish governments deteriorated further when the Scottish Government alleged that Rajoy invited a senior UK official to visit Madrid allegedly to co-ordinate British and Spanish opposition to the independence movements in Scotland and Catalonia.

Awards and honors

  • Gold Medal of the Spanish Council of the Professional Cycling (25 April 2001).
  • Sash of Special Category of the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (18 April 2012).
  • Honorary Doctorate in Law by the Sergio Arboleda University in Bogotá, Colombia (21 April 2012).
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III (12 September 2003).
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of Chile.
  • Order of the Republic of Serbia (2013) 

Pedro Sánchez had  been seleted as prime minister of Spain  n 2018

From Wikipedia

Felipe VI

Felipe VI of Spain

Felipe VI
Felipe de Borbón en Ecuador.jpg
King of Spain 
Reign 19 June 2014 – present
Enthronement 19 June 2014
Predecessor Juan Carlos I
Heir presumptive Leonor
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
 
Born (1968-01-30) 30 January 1968
Our Lady of Loreto Clinic, Madrid, Spain
Spouse Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano (m. 2004)
Issue Leonor, Princess of Asturias
Infanta Sofía of Spain
Full name
Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia
House Bourbon
Father Juan Carlos I of Spain
Mother Sophia of Greece and Denmark
Religion Roman Catholic
Signature Felipe VI's signature

Felipe VI (Spanish: [feˈlipe] Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia; ) is the King of Spain. He ascended to the throne on 19 June 2014 following the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos I. He is the only son of Juan Carlos and his wife Sofía of Greece and Denmark. When Juan Carlos was chosen in 1969 to be Francisco Franco’s successor, Felipe became second in line to the Spanish throne.

In 2004, Felipe married TV news journalist Letizia Ortiz with whom he has two daughters. Leonor, the elder, is his heir presumptive. In accordance with the Spanish Constitution, as monarch, he is head of state and commander-in-chief of the Spanish Armed Forces, and also plays a role in promoting relations with Hispanic America and the former Spanish East Indies, which are collectively called the “nations of its historical community”.

Birth and early life

Felipe was born at Our Lady of Loreto Clinic in Madrid, the third child and only son of Infante Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sofía of Greece and Denmark. He was baptised on 8 February 1968 at the Palace of Zarzuela by the Archbishop of Madrid, Casimiro Morcillo. His full baptismal name, Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos, consists of the names of the first Bourbon King of Spain (Philip V), his grandfathers (Infante Juan of Spain and King Paul of Greece), his great-grandfather King Alfonso XIII of Spain, and de Todos los Santos as is customary among the Bourbons. His godparents were his paternal grandfather Juan and his paternal great-grandmother, Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain.

Shortly after his birth Felipe VI was styled infante, although his father was not yet king. The ruling dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco died just over two months before Felipe’s eighth birthday, and Felipe’s father ascended the throne. In his first official appearance, Felipe attended his father’s proclamation as king on 22 November 1975.

In 1977, Felipe VI was formally created Prince of Asturias. In May, nine-year-old Felipe was made an honorary soldier of the 1st King’s Immemorial Infantry Regiment. The occasion was marked on 28 May and was attended by the king, the prime minister and several other ministers in a ceremony at the infantry’s barracks. On 1 November the same year, he was ceremoniously paid homage as Prince of Asturias in Covadonga. In 1981 Felipe received the Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece from his father, the Chief and Sovereign of the Order. On his 18th birthday on 30 January 1986, Felipe VI swore allegiance to the Constitution and to the King in the Spanish Parliament as required by the constitution, fully accepting his role as successor to the Crown.

Education and military training

Felipe attended school at Santa María de los Rosales, which his daughters currently attend. Felipe attended high school at Lakefield College School in Ontario, Canada, and studied at the Autonomous University of Madrid, where he graduated with a degree in Law; he also completed several courses in Economics. Felipe VI completed his academic studies by obtaining a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he was the roommate of his cousin, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.

As the heir to the throne, a carefully regulated and structured plan was laid out for Felipe’s military training. In August 1985, a Royal Decree named Felipe VI as officer at the General Military Academy in Zaragoza. He began his military training there in September. He completed the first phase of his formation in October. In July 1986, he was promoted to Cadet 2nd Lieutenant. He was also named as Midshipman. On September 1986, he began his naval training at the Escuela Naval Militar in Pontevedra, joining the Third Brigade. In January 1987, he continued his naval training on board the training ship Juan Sebastián Elcano. In July, he was named as Student Ensign at the Academia General del Aire in Murcia. In September 1987, he began his air force training there. where he learned to fly aircraft. In 1989, Felipe VI was promoted to lieutenant in the Army, ensign in the Navy, and lieutenant in the Air Force. In 1992, he was promoted to captain in the Air Force. In 1993, he was promoted to lieutenant in the Navy and captain in the Infantry of the Army.

Further promotions in 2000 were commandant in the Army, corvette captain in the Navy, and commandant in the Air Force. Promotions in 2009 were lieutenant colonel in the Army, frigate captain in the Navy, and lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.

Since June 19, 2014, after his ascension to the throne, Felipe VI acquired the rank of Capitán General (Commander-in-chief) of all the Spanish armies (Land, Navy and Air Force).

Activities in Spain and abroad

Felipe meeting President Vladimir Putin of Russia, 2002
Felipe meeting President Vladimir Putin of Russia, 2002

Felipe undertook his constitutional duties assiduously as heir to the throne, hosting many official events in Spain and participating in all events of different sectors and aspects of Spanish public life as required. Since October 1995, Felipe VI has represented Spain on a series of official visits to the Spanish Autonomous Communities, starting with Valencia, during which he made contact with Spaniards from all walks of life. Felipe has held regular meetings with constitutional bodies and state institutions keeping up-to-date with their activities. He also attends meetings of the various bodies of the Central Administration and of the Autonomous Communities as required by his national and international constitutional obligations. Felipe VI has welcomed as many public and private audiences as possible to maintain Crown interaction in national and international affairs. In particular, he has held meetings with people of his generation who have built successful careers in political, economic, cultural and media circles. As part of his military training, Felipe trained as a military helicopter pilot. On occasions when King Juan Carlos was unable to attend, Felipe presided over the annual presentation of dispatches to officers and non-commissioned officers in the Armed Forces as well as participating in military exercises held by the three Armed Services.

Felipe and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, 2010
Felipe and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, 2010

Felipe has made many official visits to Europe and Latin America, as well as to countries in the Arab World, the Far East, and Australia, maintaining a special interest in all matters relating to the European Union, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa. Since January 1996, Felipe VI has represented the Spanish State at many Latin American presidents’ inauguration ceremonies. As Prince, he visited every country in Latin America except Cuba, and made over 200 foreign trips in total. King of Spain Felipe has also played a very active role in promoting Spain’s economic, commercial and cultural interests and the Spanish language abroad. He frequently represents Spain at world economic and trade events (e.g. Expotecnia, Expoconsumo, and Expohabitat), and is especially interested in promoting the creation of Centres and University Chairs to advance the study of Spain both historically and in the present-day at major foreign universities.

Following the 11 March 2004 Madrid bombings, Felipe, along with his sisters Elena and Cristina, took part in a public demonstration.

Felipe speaks Spanish, Catalan, French, English and some Greek.

Social activities

In addition to his official activities, King of Spain serves as Honorary President of several associations and foundations, such as the Codespa Foundation, which finances economic and social development in Ibero-America and other countries, and the Spanish branch of the Association of European Journalists, comprising outstanding communications professionals. Most noteworthy is the Príncipe de Asturias Foundation, where he presides annually at the international awards ceremony of the highly prestigious Prince of Asturias Awards bearing his name.

Felipe was appointed a “UN-Eminent Person” by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2001, during its International Year of Volunteers, and continues to make contributions internationally towards enhancing the importance of voluntary work.

Sports and participation in the Olympics

Felipe was a member of the Spanish Olympic sailing team at the Barcelona Games in 1992. Felipe took part in the opening ceremony as the Spanish team’s flag bearer. The Spanish crew finished in sixth place in the Soling class and obtained an Olympic diploma.

King of Spain Felipe has been a supporter of Atlético Madrid since watching them win the 1976 Copa del Generalísimo Final.

Felipe, himself 197 cm (6 ft 5 12 in) in height, has attended Spanish, European, and Olympic basketball championships.

Both his mother and uncle were on the Greek sailing team at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome (his mother as a substitute), and King of Spain Felipe’s father and sister were also Olympic sailors for Spain.

Reign

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Felipe in the king's private office at Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on 19 October 2015
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Felipe in the king’s private office at Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on 19 October 2015

On 2 June 2014, King Juan Carlos announced his intent to abdicate in Felipe’s favour. As required by the Constitution of Spain, the Spanish Cabinet began deliberations the following day on an organic law to give effect to the abdication. The law had to be passed by a majority of all members of the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Cortes Generales (Parliament). According to Jesús Posada, the President of the Congress of Deputies, Felipe could have been proclaimed king as early as 18 June. On 4 June, El País of Madrid reported that Felipe would indeed be proclaimed king on 18 June.

Felipe ascended the throne at the stroke of midnight on 19 June; his father had given his sanction to the organic law effecting his abdication just hours earlier. The next morning, after receiving the captain general’s sash from his father, King of Spain was formally sworn-in and proclaimed king in a low-key ceremony held in the Cortes. He swore to uphold the Constitution before formally being proclaimed king by Posada. Upon his accession, he became the youngest monarch in Europe, being nine months younger than King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

As king, Felipe has fairly extensive reserve powers on paper. He is the guardian of the Constitution, responsible for ensuring it is obeyed. While he is nominally chief executive, it is expected that he will follow his father’s practice of taking a mostly ceremonial and representative role, acting largely on the advice of the government. He indicated as much in a speech to the Cortes on the day of his enthronement, saying that he would be “a loyal head of state who is ready to listen and understand, warn and advise as well as to defend the public interest at all times”. A poll conducted by El País, however, indicates that a majority of Spaniards wish that King of Spain Felipe play a greater role in politics, with 75% of the 600 surveyed people stating that they would approve if he personally pushed the political parties to reach agreements on national problems. According to an El Mundo newspaper poll, Felipe had a greater approval than his father prior to his reign.

In June 2014, Felipe and Letizia became the first Spanish monarch and consort to receive and recognize LGBT organisations at the Palace. King of Spain Felipe also changed the protocol in order to allow people to take the oath of office without a crucifix or Bible. In their first overseas trip as monarchs, Felipe VI and Queen Letizia met Pope Francis on 30 June 2014, in the Apostolic Palace. They subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Mgsr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for Relations with States. The visit followed one by King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía on 28 April. On 18 July, he first attended a meeting of the Council of Ministers.

In February 2015, King of Spain Felipe announced that he would cut his annual salary by 20% as a result of the economic recession and hardships continuing to hamper Spain.

The elections in 2015 resulted in no party winning enough seats to form a government. No agreements with the different parties were successful. After months of talks with the different party leaders, and with there being no apparent candidate in a position of support in forming a government, a royal decree was issued dissolving parliament with new elections being called in June. This marked the first time since the transition to democracy that an election was called under Article 99.5 of the Constitution, wherein the initiative for issuing the dissolution of the Cortes belonged to the King and not to the Prime Minister.

Marriage and issue

Felipe and Letizia at the wedding of Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, and Daniel Westling, in Stockholm, 2010
Felipe and Letizia at the wedding of Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, and Daniel Westling, in Stockholm, 2010

Felipe’s bachelor years were a source of interest to the Spanish press for several years. His name was linked with several eligible women, but only two notable girlfriends: Spanish noblewoman Isabel Sartorius, around 1989 to 1991, daughter of Vicente Sartorius y Cabeza de Vaca, who was viewed unfavourably by the Royal Family due to her mother’s cocaine addiction, and Norwegian model Eva Sannum, who modelled underwear. When King of Spain Felipe finally began a serious relationship, nothing was suspected before the official announcement of the Prince’s engagement on 1 November 2003 to Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, an award-winning television journalist formerly with CNN who had been married previously. The couple were married on the morning of 22 May 2004 in the Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, with representatives of royal families from all over the world and most heads of state from Latin America present.

Felipe and Letizia have two daughters: Leonor, Princess of Asturias, born on 31 October 2005, and Infanta Sofía, born on 29 April 2007.

Royal monogram of King Felipe VI
Royal monogram of King Felipe VI
  • Titles, styles and arms

    Royal monogram of King Felipe VI
    Royal monogram of King Felipe VI

    Titles and styles

    • 30 January 1968 – 22 January 1977: His Royal Highness Infante Felipe of Spain
    • 22 January 1977 – 19 June 2014: His Royal Highness The Prince of Asturias
      • in former Crown of Aragon territories: 22 January 1977 – 19 June 2014: His Royal Highness The Prince of Girona
      • in former Kingdom of Navarre territories: 22 January 1977 – 19 June 2014: His Royal Highness The Prince of Viana
    • 19 June 2014 – present: His Majesty The King of Spain

    Though Juan Carlos held no official title or post in Spain prior to 1969, his son Felipe was registered in the Civil Registry as an ‘Infante’ when he was born, with the style of Royal Highness. About a year later, General Franco recognised Juan Carlos as the future successor to the headship of state and bestowed upon him the title of Prince of Spain. Thus, Felipe became second-in-line in the line of succession to the vacant throne.

    Juan Carlos became king in 1975, but no title was conferred on Felipe as heir apparent until 1977, when he was created Prince of Asturias, the traditional title normally held by the heir to the Spanish throne. The royal decree granting him this title also entitled him to use “the other historical titles corresponding to the heir of the Crown”. Felipe started using the Aragonese-Catalan title of Prince of Girona publicly on 21 April 1990, during a trip around Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia, becoming the first Bourbon to use this title. Later, he did the same thing with the Princedom of Viana in Navarre, and the titles of Duke of Montblanc, Count of Cervera and Lord of Balaguer in their respective places.

    Upon ascending the throne, Felipe assumed the same titles held by his father. If the former Kingdoms of Aragon and Navarre had separate naming styles, he would also be known as Felipe V of Aragon and Felipe VII of Navarre along with Felipe VI of Castile.

    Arms

     
    Felipe’s arms as heir to the throne (left) and as king (right)

    As heir to the Spanish throne, Felipe’s coat of arms were the Spanish arms differenced with a label of three points azure (blue). The first quarter represents Castile, the second León, the third Aragon and the fourth Navarre; below are the arms of Granada. In the centre, on an inescutcheon, is the ancestral arms of the sovereign House of Bourbon-Anjou. Surrounding the shield is the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece and surmounting it was the heraldic crown of the heir to the throne, decorated with four half-arches.

    Following his accession to the throne, the label on his arms was removed and the crown of the heir was changed to that of the monarch’s (eight half-arches instead of four). This arms differ from that of his father’s as king as they do not feature the Cross of Burgundy or the yoke, and sheaf of five arrows.

From Wikipedia

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