Our buddy Dennis Hollingsworth, whose website you might check out--it's on the blogroll over there--wants to know something about Mariano Rajoy, the next prime minister of Spain.
Well, OK, he hasn't been elected yet, that's not coming up until March 2004, but barring massive disaster he's going to win another absolute majority for the center-right People's Party because the competition is so pathetic. The PP is a well-oiled machine. Aznar announced that Rajoy was his choice as his successor and the entire party, including competitors for the top spot like economics genius Rodrigo Rato and hardball political player Eduardo Zaplana, has saluted, said "Yes, sir", and is already at work getting Rajoy elected as Aznar's successor.
That is professionalism, competence, and party discipline, exactly what the Socialists have shown us they so badly lack.
Rajoy is a Gallego but of the non-nationalist sort. He's not real good looking--has kind of a scraggly beard and wears glasses, sort of like yours truly. His ears are a lot bigger than mine, though, and he's got more white hair in the ol' beard. He is known to have a sense of humor, unlike his predecessor Aznar, and he is especially well-known as a negotiator and political operator. He's the PP's fireman, the guy they send to make a deal with whoever when a deal has to be made. He smokes huge cigars constantly. He is, as Willy Loman would say, well-liked. He's comparatively young, only 48, so if he gets in he might be there for a while.
He's been with the PP during his whole political career, going back to 1981 when he was elected to be a regional deputy to the Galician parliament and the PP was still called the AP.
He's been in the Cabinet since 1996 when Aznar got elected Prime Minister for the first time. He's been minister for Public Administration, Education and Culture, Interior (law enforcement), and Presidency (more or less Chief of Staff). [I had to look this up, of course.] Right now he's Minister for Presidency, First Vice-Prime Minister, and party spokesman. He was also campaign manager for the PP in both the 1996 and 2000 elections.
The general opinion floating around here in non-tinfoil hat wacko circles is, hey, good choice. Mariano Rajoy will be very goddamn hard to beat. Prediction right here, right now, is that in the March general elections he takes another absolute majority in Parliament.
To sum up: this guy is a pro.