The dash­ing new Span­ish PM

Move over Justin Trudeau, there’s a new po­lit­i­cal hunk on the scene – Pe­dro Sánchez is man in the hot seat in Spain


HE LOOKS as if he be­longs on the cover of a glossy men’s magazine, not stand­ing around de­liv­er­ing long, bor­ing po­lit­i­cal speeches.

But make no mis­take: when Spain’s new prime min­is­ter, Pe­dro Sánchez, speaks he has women the world over hang­ing on his every word.

Canada’s Justin Trudeau used to be con­sid­ered the world’s sex­i­est leader, but not any­more. With the be­gin­nings of a salt-and-pep­per head of hair and clas­sic chis­elled fea­tures, Sánchez (46) looks like a cross be­tween Ge­orge Clooney and James Bond – lit­tle won­der he’s been send­ing the in­ter­net into melt­down.

Af­ter he was sworn in ear­lier this month it didn’t take long for the rest of the world to fig­ure out why he’s af­fec­tion­ately known as “Señor Guapo (Mr Hand­some)” back home.

“Im­por­tant geopo­lit­i­cal news: Spain’s new prime min­is­ter is white hot!” Amer­i­can Buz­zFeed jour­nal­ist David Mack wrote on Twit­ter.

But who ex­actly is this Don Juan who’s mak­ing women go weak at the knees?

WHEN King Felipe of Spain swore Sánchez into of­fice on 2 June the new prime min­is­ter prob­a­bly had to pinch him­self to check he wasn’t dream­ing. Born in 1972 in Madrid to an econ­o­mist fa­ther and lawyer mother, Sánchez seemed to find a career in bas­ket­ball al­lur­ing as a teen.

Dur­ing his high school years he landed a place in pro­fes­sional club Es­tu­di­antes but at age 21 he abruptly changed his path and en­rolled at the Com­plutense Univer­sity of Madrid to study eco­nom­ics and busi­ness.

Al­though he had var­i­ous jobs over the years, in­clud­ing as an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor and serv­ing as chief of staff to the UN high rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Bos­nia dur­ing the Kosovo con­flict in 1999, party pol­i­tics were al­ways his pas­sion.

He joined the So­cial­ist Work­ers’ Party in 1993 when he was still a stu­dent and rose through the ranks, be­com­ing an MP to the Congress of Deputies for Madrid in 2009.

He suf­fered a set­back two years later when he lost his seat, but won it back in 2013.

Just a year later he was elected leader of his party but af­ter two elec­tion de­feats he was de­posed in 2016, which seem­ingly left his po­lit­i­cal career in tat­ters.

But in­stead of sit­ting around lick­ing his wounds, Sánchez sprang into ac­tion to win back sup­port at the party’s grass­roots level, and just seven months later he rose like a phoenix from the ashes to be reap­pointed the party’s leader.

When he led his party in ini­ti­at­ing a vote of no con­fi­dence against for­mer prime min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy (63), it seemed like a long shot be­cause no Span­ish leader had ever been re­moved in such a man­ner be­fore.

‘Im­por­tant news: Spain’s prime min­is­ter is white hot!’

But Ra­joy was so mired in a sleazy cash-for-con­tracts kick­back saga that Sánchez had lit­tle trou­ble per­suad­ing other par­ties such as Pode­mos and the Cata­lan na­tion­al­ists to boot him out.

It’s af­ter this that things got re­ally in­ter­est­ing. In terms of the Span­ish con­sti­tu­tion, in the event of a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence be­ing suc­cess­ful, the party that ini­ti­ates the vote has to re­place the rul­ing party.

So that’s how Sánchez came to be sworn in as Spain’s sev­enth prime min­is­ter since the coun­try’s re­turn to democ­racy in the ’70s, even though his party en­joys less than a quar­ter of the seats in the coun­try’s congress – 84 out of 350.

The as­tute politi­cian has been mak­ing all the right noises since tak­ing of­fice.

“I’m aware of the re­spon­si­bil­ity I’m as­sum­ing and I’ll rise to all the chal­lenges with hu­mil­ity and ded­i­ca­tion,” he said. “I’m will­ing to mod­ernise and trans­form the coun­try and to at­tend to the ur­gent so­cial is­sues of the many peo­ple who suf­fer inequal­ity.”

His op­po­nents have crit­i­cised him for his lack of a clear po­lit­i­cal vi­sion. But his sup­port­ers say he has a tal­ent for com­pro­mise and reckon that his back­ground in eco­nom­ics will give him an ad­van­tage as he tries to sort out Spain’s fi­nan­cial woes.

The coun­try, which has the fifth-largest econ­omy in the Euro­pean Union, is just emerg­ing from a fi­nan­cial cri­sis that’s crip­pled it for the bet­ter part of a decade.

But mak­ing sure he stays at the pin­na­cle of power will un- doubt­edly give him many more grey hairs – mem­bers of Ra­joy’s ma­jor­ity Peo­ple’s Party have promised they won’t make things easy for Sánchez, whom they be­lieve “slipped in through the back door of congress”.

Yet Sánchez, a com­mit­ted so­cial­ist, is al­ready a firm favourite among Span­ish women, and not just for his dash­ing good looks.

The an­nounce­ment of his cab­i­net caused ma­jor waves be­cause 11 of his 17 min­is­ters are women – the most in the coun­try’s his­tory. His ap­point­ment of for­mer astro­naut Pe­dro Duque as the new min­is­ter of science also im­pressed vot­ers.

MANY of his ar­dent fe­male ad­mir­ers were heart­bro­ken to discover that there’s a Señora Guapo in the pic­ture. Her name is María Be­goña Gómez Fernán­dez (43) and they’re hap­pily mar­ried – in fact, many peo­ple say it’s thanks to her sup­port and en­cour­age­ment that the pho­to­genic leader, who stands 1,9m tall, is where he is to­day. The pair mar­ried in 2006 and have two daugh­ters, Ain­hoa (13) and Car­lota (11). María seems to have reser­va­tions about swop­ping her lowkey ex­is­tence liv­ing in a flat in Madrid for the prime min­is­ter’s home and life in the pub­lic spotlight. Her hus­band’s rise up the po­lit­i­cal lad­der has meant she’s had to quit her job as a com­pany direc­tor. But it seems Sánchez goes out of his way to make up for all her sac­ri­fices.

As if his looks, po­lit­i­cal savvy and abil­ity to speak French and English flu­ently weren’t enough, María re­vealed he of­ten writes her love let­ters, which she keeps in a small wooden chest.

Sánchez and his wife share a mu­tual love of ex­er­cise and sport, which prob­a­bly ex­plains why he looks so buff in his power suits.

Right now, with op­po­si­tion par­ties warn­ing that they’ll pull out all the stops to make sure an early elec­tion is called, Sánchez is do­ing ev­ery­thing he can to stay in his coun­try’s top job.

And you can bet there’ll be mil­lions of women hop­ing the sexy Spa­niard suc­ceeds.

Sánchez and his wife, María Be­goña Gómez Fernán­dez, have two daugh­ters.

LEFT: A cor­rup­tion scan­dal led to Mar­i­ano Ra­joy mak­ing way for Pe­dro Sánchez (ABOVE), who’s get­ting a lot of at­ten­tion for his good looks.

RIGHT: King Felipe VI and Queen Le­tizia of Spain. The king swore Sánchez into of­fice as the coun­try’s prime min­is­ter on 2 June.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.