Spain ex-PM's wife becomes Madrid's first woman mayor
Outspoken right-leaning politician Ana Botella took office as the first female mayor of Madrid on Tuesday, vowing to cut the capital's 6.3-billion euro ($8.3 billion) debt.
Botella, the 58-year-old wife of former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, said creating jobs was her top priority and that she would deepen efforts to cut the debt, at a time when national spending cuts are biting.
"We have already managed to substantially limit our budget and reduce the debt," which will reach 6.377 billion euros by the end of 2011, she told the city council after her televised swearing-in.
"Through this path of budgetary discipline we will achieve a balance between revenues and spending in the coming year," she added. "We will cut the debt burden by a further 3.112 billion euros by 2016."
Botella inspires sharply divided reactions among Spaniards and is known for some controversial remarks.
She declared in 2004: "Homosexual marriage will never be equal to heterosexual marriage in the same way that two apples produce another apple, but an apple and a pear will never produce another apple."
Botella added on Tuesday that a bid by Madrid to host the 2020 Olympic Games was still viable since most of the necessary investment had already been made.
"Among our aims, Madrid's effort to be an Olympic city has an important place -- a commitment that we are renewing with our eyes on the 2020 Games," she said.
"To accomplish it, no new spending is needed until the International Olympic Committee's decision, because we have already built 80 percent of the necessary infrastructure."
Madrid and five other candidate cities are due to submit their 2020 Games plans by February 25 to the committee, which will vote on the host city in September 2013.
The other contenders are Baku, Doha, Istanbul, Rome and Tokyo.
Botella's swearing-in was attended by Aznar and six ministers of the new national government formed by the conservative Popular Party.
The leadership of Spain's capital was left open when Madrid mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon was named last week as justice minister by new Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
A lawyer by training, Botella entered Madrid politics in 2003 and was responsible for Madrid social services and later the environment.
© 2011 AFP