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Spain’s conservative Popular Party (PP) on Saturday picked Pablo Casado, 37, to replace Mariano Rajoy after the former prime minister was ousted in a no confidence vote in June.
Casado’s rival for the top job, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, told journalists she was conceding the race ahead of the official result announcement after PP deputies cast their ballots in Madrid.
The appointment of Casado, a lawmaker who has promised “hope” with a generational revamp of the party, will be seen as a lurch to the right for the party.
He has taken a hardline stance on Catalonia, calling for the addition of offences such as illegally calling a referendum to the criminal code to boost Spain’s legal response to the secession threat.
“Dialogue doesn’t work with those who want to break the law,” he said this week.
Casado is also against decriminalising euthanasia as promoted by the Socialist government and wants to lower income and corporation taxes.
He will have to breathe life into a party which lost three million voters between the 2011 general elections, when Rajoy won an absolute majority, and the last polls in 2016.
Many have migrated to Ciudadanos, a centre-right party, angry over the series of corruption scandals that hit the PP in recent years.
Rajoy was ousted in a no-confidence vote in June, partly seen as a censure for his handling of the Catalan independence crisis, and a perception that he was weak on rooting out corruption.