Jaime Mayor Oreja

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Jaime Mayor Oreja

Mayor Oreja.jpg
Minister of the Interior
In office
4 May 1996 – 27 February 2001
Prime MinisterJosé María Aznar
Preceded byJuan Alberto Belloch
Succeeded byMariano Rajoy
Member of the European Parliament
In office
13 June 2004 – 25 May 2014
Member of the Congress of Deputies
In office
3 March 1996 – 24 April 2001
In office
1 April 1979 – 28 October 1982
Member of the Basque Parliament
In office
8 June 2001 – 2 July 2004
In office
18 December 1990 – 29 March 1996
In office
22 March 1984 – October 1, 1986
Personal details
Political partyPeople's Party (1989–present)
Other political
Union of the Democratic Centre (1977–1983)
People's Coalition (1983–1986)

Jaime Mayor Oreja (born 12 June 1951) is a Spanish politician of the People's Party. He has served as a member in the Basque Parliament, the Spanish Parliament, and the European Parliament, as well as serving in various ministries, within both Spanish and autonomous Basque Governments. He is known for his outspoken anti-ETA rhetoric.[1]


Early life[edit]

Mayor Oreja's family is deeply rooted in conservative Spanish politics, his grandfather Marcelino Oreja Elósegui, Catholic activist, and Carlist politician, was a victim of the Asturian strike action of 1934, and his uncle Marcelino Oreja Aguirre served extensively in the civil service of Spain and the European Parliament, and introduced his nephew to politics. He was born and raised in San Sebastián, he attended a school run by Marianists, and briefly studied law before quitting to enter politics.[2]

Early career[edit]

Oreja joined the Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) in 1977, after failing to be elected in the first elections to the Cortes Generales in a democratic Spain, and was elected with the UCD in 1979. Shortly after the elections, he was appointed delegate of the Spanish government to the Basque Government, he was also involved in the implementation of the Basque Statute of Autonomy, serving in the Basque General Council, precursor to the autonomous parliament, as a tourism minister. He left the Cortes Generales in 1982, as the Socialist Party won a majority, he kept his position as delegate of the Spanish government to the Basque Government until 1983, when the UCD began collapsing. He joined the People's Coalition, and stood as their candidate for lehendakari in the 1984 Basque elections. Disagreements within the governing party, the Basque Nationalist Party, a snap election was called in 1986. Mayor Oreja took this opportunity to retire from the Basque Parliament the world of politics.

Return to Politics[edit]

In 1989, at the request of Manuel Fraga, Mayor Oreja returned to politics to help the newly founded People's Party (PP), he led the party in the Basque elections of 1990, and directed the European Parliament elections in 1989, where the party made no significant gains or losses. In 1994, the party nearly doubled its seats. Fellow party member in the Basque Parliament, Gregorio Ordóñez, was assassinated in 1995 by the Euskara Ta Askatsuna (ETA), which helped the PP's win the following year.

Ministerial career[edit]

José María Aznar, led the PP to government in 1996, and Mayor Oreja was back in the Cortes Generales, representing Alava, and was appointed by Aznar as Minister of the Interior. Upon entering government, he had to deal with the ETA's kidnapping of José Antonio Ortega Lara, after a false truce, he coined the term "tregua-trampa", or "truce-trap". In a 1998 interview, Mayor Oreja said, "The PP government, and I personally, what I did was close the dialogue and negotiation with ETA when ETA approached the Government to seek a political negotiation."

2001 Basque candidacy and MEP[edit]

His tenure as Minister of the Interior marked Mayor Oreja's height of influence, and thereafter his political career experienced an irregular decline. In 2001, his party chose him as candidate to the Basque regional presidency in that year's election, so he resigned as Minister of the Interior to focus on running the campaign.

The 2001 Basque elections took place in the aftermath of the collapse of ETA's 1998 ceasefire. Mayor Oreja ran on an aggressive ticket,[3][4] defending the Spanish Constitution and the Statute of Gernika as the main framework to defeat ETA, and vigorously attacked the incumbent Basque Nationalist Party due to their alleged complicity with terrorism.[5] Although his ticket never polled high enough to secure a plurality of seats in the Basque parliament, Mayor Oreja and the Spanish Socialist Party made it clear that were the incumbent lehendakari Juan José Ibarretxe to fail to secure an absolute majority in the Basque parliament, Mayor Oreja would form a minority government instead with the Socialist's support.[3] Albeit Mayor Oreja improved his party's results and attained 22.9% of the votes, this proved insufficient to unseat Ibarretxe, who obtained 42.4% of the votes with a 6.2% swing in his favour. As a result, Mayor Oreja failed to become lehendakari, and Ibarretxe was re-elected.

He remained leader of the opposition in the Basque country until 2004. During this time, he developed a reputation as an absentee parliamentarian,[6] particularly after missing a key vote in 2002 that enabled the Ibarretxe government to pass its budget by just one vote (Mayor Oreja's).[7]

In 2004 he was named as a potential successor to the outgoing Spanish prime minister José María Aznar,[8] but the latter finally opted for Mariano Rajoy instead. Shortly afterwards, Mayor Oreja quit his seat in the Basque parliament and ran for MEP in that year's European parliament elections, where he secured a seat. For the next ten years, he occupied several senior positions in the European People's Party group of the European Parliament.

His positions opposing abortion[9][10] and LGBT rights,[11][12] and his hard-line stance against terrorism,[13] placed him at the far right of his party. After a series of public spats with his party's leadership over their strategy in the final days of ETA,[14][15] Mayor Oreja decided not to run again for the European Parliament in the 2014 election, and largely abandoned public life.


  1. ^ "Noticias de terrorismo". Lukor (in Spanish). July 22, 2009. Archived from the original on July 22, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ Oliden, Kepa (April 30, 2006). "El último revolucionario". El Diario Vasco (in Spanish). Vocento. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Jaime Mayor Oreja, Spain's tough Basque". The Economist (in Spanish). 8 March 2011. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  4. ^ Tremlett, Giles (14 May 2001). "Vote split in the battle for Basque hearts". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  5. ^ Daly, Emma (14 May 2001). "Moderate Basque Nationalists Win Spanish Regional Election". NY Times (in Spanish). The New York Times Company. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  6. ^ Tussell, Javier (23 May 2012). El aznarato: El gobierno del Partido Popular 1996-2003. Madrid: Penguin Random House Grupo. p. 392. ISBN 9788403012691. OCLC 055208137.
  7. ^ Gorospe, Pedro (28 December 2002). "La ausencia de Mayor Oreja permite a Ibarretxe aprobar los Presupuestos". El País (in Spanish). Prisa. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Jaime Mayor Oreja". Bloomberg.com. 11 June 2001. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  9. ^ Carvajal, Álvaro (12 November 2013). "Mayor Oreja: 'El derecho al aborto es una aberración'". El Mundo (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  10. ^ Cabrera, Elena (13 September 2013). "Jaime Mayor Oreja: "El aborto no puede ser considerado un derecho"". El Diario (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  11. ^ Moraga, Carmen (5 February 2014). "Un informe a favor de los derechos del colectivo gay divide al PP de Mayor Oreja en Estrasburgo". El Diario (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  12. ^ Bastante, Jesús (20 December 2016). "Ultracatólicos apadrinados por Mayor Oreja lanzan un manifiesto contra las "leyes totalitarias" de género y LGTB". El Diario (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  13. ^ Molina, Ferrer (20 August 2017). "Mayor Oreja: "Los españoles merecían que les explicaran los atentados en español"". El Español (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  14. ^ Europa Press (18 February 2014). "Mayor Oreja no irá al Congreso del PPE, al que Rajoy viajará con una amplia representación del partido". El Mundo (in Spanish). Madrid. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  15. ^ Elordi Cué, Carlos (3 September 2012). "Mayor y Aguirre reprochan a Rajoy el 'caso Bolinaga' en una tensa reunión". El País. Madrid: Prisa. Retrieved 11 March 2019.

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