Key Conservative Ally in Spain Resigns As President of Madrid

Foreign Affairs & Security
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Ben Harris-Quinney

News of Esperanza Aguirre's resignation reached political circles in London minutes after he announcement, and was greeted with much the same shock and bewilderment as experienced in Spain, following a truly bizarre day in Iberian politics.

At the time the announcement reached me I happened to be in the British Parliament with the Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, the announcement was met by him and I with equal surprise and sadness.

After President Aznar, President Aguirre is probably the most well known Spanish politician in the UK in Conservative circles. She spoke at the National Conservative Party Conference in 2005, the same year David Cameron was elected leader, and has since become widely recognised as one of the UK's strongest allies in Spain. She has also evoked marked parallels with firebrand British politicians. As a woman, her comparison to Lady Thatcher as a trailblazing female leader of great stregth has been widespread in the UK and in Spain, and as President of Madrid her role in the Partido Popular has often been compared to that of London Mayor Boris Johnson in the Conservative Party; a leader of personality, vision and ideals who often threatens to overshadow their own party leader.

Like most people puzzling over her decision to leave office so suddenly I have no ideas of any certainty as to her reasons. I find it hard to believe that they are entirely politically motivated. If Aguirre wanted to change the direction of PP policy she has far greater opportunity to do so while retaining a senior political post, and in consideration of her senior age and that she does not have a seat in the Congreso waiting for her, it would seem a bridge too far to expect her to make a contest for future leadership of her party.

Whatever the reasons behind her decision she has, at least in the immediate term, left a huge chasm in conservative politics in Spain.

I have closely worked with President Aguirre and her office a number of times in the past and, it is clear to anyone who meets her that she is a unqiue politician and one that will never be replaced by another anonymous face in a suit. Aside from her immense personality, her politics will also be sorely missed, in Spain at a time where clear and strong principles are needed to guide a nation through economic darkness, and in England where those who stood alongside President Aznar in a commitment to trans-Atlantic western values and partnership were both rare and greatly valued.

Many Conservatives in London will watch with interest to the reasons behind her resignation, and with hope that it does not mark the final chapter in her political career.

Read the original article, Lady Thatcher, made in Spain.

Ben Harris Quinney is Chairman of the Bow Group and was writing in La Razon