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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Spanish cabinet - key players

Profiles of the some of the key players in Spain's new socialist cabinet.

Defence Minister Jose Bono

Spanish Defence Minister Jose Bono
Jose Bono - popular with voters

Just a few months ago Jose Bono categorically denied he would be willing to assume a ministerial post in any government. But this 54-year-old lawyer from Albacete in south-eastern Spain has always been a pragmatist.

A practising Catholic, he was the only cabinet member to be sworn in on the Bible by King Juan Carlos II. The rest of the government swore an oath promising to fulfil their obligations.

Mr Bono is a Socialist Party (PSOE) old-timer popular with the electorate. He has been regional premier of Castilla-La Mancha five times in a row, winning 58% of the votes in 2003.

However, he lost out to Mr Zapatero in the PSOE leadership contest in 2000.

Jose Bono is known as a rather blunt politician who says he puts the interests of the electorate at the heart of policy-making.

His first challenge as defence minister is to oversee the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in the face of strident opposition from the US and British governments. He says this decision undoubtedly strengthens democracy.

"From my modest viewpoint, the world order cannot rest on keystones that only a group of powerful people understand. The world order is much firmer and stronger when it rests on the understanding of a whole society," the minister said at a news conference following the new government's first cabinet meeting.

Economy Minister Pedro Solbes

Spanish Economy Minister Pedro Solbes
Mr Solbes - back in government

Fiscal reform will be at the heart of Pedro Solbes' policy-making.

This 62-year-old from Alicante - a former European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs - is a firm believer in budgetary discipline and has been a vocal opponent of French and German attempts to override the EU Stability Pact.

He was also economy minister under the last socialist government headed by Felipe Gonzalez, when he was credited with stabilising the economy in the early 1990s.

He faces the challenge of promoting economic development based on education, research and innovation which will allow the creation of stable jobs, as set out by the prime minister at his investiture debate.

The minister will also focus on creating what he calls fiscal spaces for each of the autonomous communities, as well as budgeting for the construction of 180,000 new homes every year to fulfil a government pledge on housing reform.

Mr Solbes says he gives his full support to the candidature of his predecessor, Rodrigo Rato, for the managing directorship of the International Monetary Fund.

Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos

Spanish Foreign Minister Angel Moratinos
Mr Moratinos - facing thorny issues

This 52-year-old career diplomat is best-known for his work as European mediator in the Middle East, a role he undertook in 1996 after just six months as Spanish ambassador in Tel Aviv.

Mr Moratinos has said he decided to enter domestic politics after seven years abroad because he felt he no longer recognised the country he had returned to, a Spain in which "consensus on foreign policy had broken down".

The minister will be involved in two of the thorniest issues facing the new government, pulling out the troops from Iraq and returning to a foreign policy that places greater emphasis on Europe than the United States.

He has said he will do all he can to ensure that the European constitution is approved before the close of the Irish presidency and is signed in Madrid in homage to the victims of the 11 March attacks.

Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso

Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso
Mr Alonso - new to politics

The prime minister has chosen an old friend and contemporary at the Law Faculty of the University of Leon as his interior minister.

This will be the 44-year-old judge's first political post.

The premier is said to have chosen Mr Alonso because of his conviction that the judge will fight terrorism without trampling on the human rights of men of violence or the Spanish people.

Some of the key socialist pledges the minister will oversee are the reform and modernization of the police system and preventive policies to fight crime.

The minister's colleagues describe him as a man driven by his strong ideological beliefs and professionalism.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Country profile: Spain
16 Mar 04  |  Country profiles
Spain swears in new government
18 Apr 04  |  Europe
Zapatero sworn in as Spanish PM
17 Apr 04  |  Europe
US chides Spain for Iraq pull-out
20 Apr 04  |  Middle East

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