Who runs Spain: Top 20 most powerful people

18th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo's "Most Powerful Spaniards" list gives an insight into the country in which you live. Here we reprint the top 20 movers and shakers.

  1. Jose Luis Rodriguz Zapatero

    Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spanish prime minister
    Critics cannot work out if he has astute political foresight or has just been lucky. But half-way through his term, 2006 will be a crunch year for Zapatero.
    Last year: no1

  2. Mariano Rajoy

    Mariano Rajoy, leader of the Opposition, president of the Popular Party.
    He survived a helicopter crash last month, a fact commentators have taken to signify the start of a new beginning for the man so long in former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar's shadow.
    Last year: no2



  3. Emilio Botin

    Emilio Botin, president of Grupo Santander.
    Spain's richest banker, the head of Santander who bought Abbey National, and seems to collect new companies. At 71, he does not plan to retire until 75, so plenty of life in him.
    Last year: no5

  4. Jose Luis Carod Rovira

    Josep Carod Rovira, president Esquerra Republicana, Catalan nationalist party.
    Unlikely choice at No4 as he got the vote of only 500,000 people, but he plays a crucial role as Zapatero's minority government depends on him and he is a power broker over the Catalan autonomy bid.
    Last year: No 19.
  5. Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, deputy prime minister.
    She has had to do all the unpleasant jobs as Zapatero's No2, like dealing with the death of  firefighters in Guadalajara and storm victims in the Canary Islands. A trusted lieutenant.
    Last year: No3
  6. Jesus Polanco, president of Prisa Group, owners of El Pais newspaper, Cadena Ser radio station among other interests.
    Polanco's links to the Socialist Party helped speed the arrival of digital TV, of which Prisa is a major player. Set to double his money in 2006 in terms of earnings.
    Last year: No 6
  7. Jose Bono, defence minister.
    The most popular government minister, according to polls, as he connects with the man in the street. The defence minister is also the only high-level devout Catholic in a party which has been at loggerheads with the Church.
    Last year: No11
  8. Perez Rubalcaba, Socialist Party spokesman in Congress.
    Highly intelligent, a great orator in parliament but also said to be the arch Maciavellian operator. His post is closest to the Chief Whip in the British House of Commons.
    Last year: No12
  9. Pedro Solbes, minister of economy and treasury.
    The real power behind the government as he is the minister who holds the purse strings. Said to have consolidated his position in the party and to have won support for his budgets.
    Last year: No7
  10. Pedro J Ramirez, editor of the Spanish daily El Mundo.
    This list was put together by the paper which Ramirez, an arch self-publicist, edits. That said, this acclaimed journalist also likes to mix in conservative political circles and has influence. His paper meanwhile is putting on readers, although figures are disputed by rivals.
    Last year: No15
  11. Ana Patricia Botin

    Ana Patricia Botin, president of Banco Banesto.
    Daughter of Emilio Botin and heir apparent to Banco Santander, Ana Patricia is the most powerful non-political woman in Spain – and possibly the richest. Voted European Business Woman of the Year in 2005 by the Financial Times.
    Last year: No18
  12. Florentino Perez

    Florentino Perez, president of ACS and Real Madrid.
    Best known for heading Los blancos,  he has made the club a world brand. That said, last season was a disaster on and off the pitch, with sworn rivals FC Barcelona walking away with the honours. This season must be better or Perez may be shown the door.
    Last year: No14
  13. Francisco Gonzalez, president of BBVA.
    Heads one of Spain's biggest banks, but largely unknown. Escaped a corruption investigation by the attorney general and has overcome a difficult year.
    Last year: No9
  14. Pasquall Maragall

    Pasquall Maragall, president of Generalitat, regional government of Catalonia.
    Key player in Spanish politics because of the centre-stage role that the Catalan autonomy-bid has achieved. Also key ally of Zapatero in Socialist party. 
    Last year: No10

  15. Antoni Brufau, president of Repsol YPF.
    Relatively new head of this part Spanish-part Argentinean multinational has done wonders at this gas company. One worry for him this year may be the new Bolivian president Evo Morales' threats to nationalise reserves.
    Last year: No16
  16. Jose Antonio Alonso, minister of the interior.
    After 20 months in the job, 400 alleged Islamic terrorists have been locked up and ETA has not killed anyone, so things look good for him. But the dubious death of a man in police custody might be an uncomfortable episode which Alonso has to deal with this year.
    Last year: No29
  17. Federico J Losantos, director of La Manana, Radio Cope.
    Controversial figure, who is more polemicist than journalist. He fronts the second most popular morning radio programme, which hit international headlines when one member of the team pretended to be Zapatero and hoaxed the Bolivian president, causing a diplomatic row.
  18. Jose Montilla, minister of industry.
    He came from nowhere to become one of the best-known ministers, partly because his brief is so important. But he was hit by controversy when he backed the Gas Natural takeover for Endesa after a bank owned by the gas company excused the Socialist party of millions of euros of debt.
    Last year: No20
  19. Esperanza Aguirre, president of Madrid regional government.
    Leading Popular Party baroness who plays a far bigger role in the party than her official post might suggest. Commentators predict a successful year.
    Last year: No13
  20. Fernando Alonso

    Fernando Alonso, Formula 1 World Champion.
    Unlikely choice for Top 20, but at just 24, his attraction to younger Spaniards is obvious. Youngest ever F1 champion already. But this year will tell if he was a one-off or one of the greats. Commentators suggest the latter.
    Last year: No62 

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