Madrid premier may challenge PP leadership

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Aguirre voices ambition on how she is not ruling out possibility to run for presidency for the Popular Party.

8 April 2008

MADRID - Madrid regional premier Esperanza Aguirre on Monday raised the possibility of competing with Mariano Rajoy for the presidency of the Popular Party, telling a conference packed with the party's top brass that her candidacy cannot be ruled out when Spain's conservatives meet to choose a leader in June.

"It is not currently in my plans. However, if my plans change then the president of my party will be the first to know," Aguirre said at the ABC Forum in Madrid. She added that the PP has garnered the image of "a nasty party, an old-fashioned party, which finds it difficult to gain ground on its rivals".

Rajoy was among the senior PP officials and prominent business leaders present during Aguirre's speech, adding to the audacity of the gesture in a party that has prided itself on political unity and internal cohesion. It was the first time any party member had raised the possibility of competing with Rajoy for the party leadership since his second consecutive defeat to the Socialists in the general election on 9 March.

Aguirre's aspirations of a more prominent role in Spanish politics after governing the Madrid region for the last five years are widely known, and the PP convention in Valencia in June will provide her with a shot at achieving that goal. It remains to be seen, however, whether her move will lead other potential rivals to come forward.

[El Pais / A. Eatwell / Expatica]

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