Jaime Mayor Oreja
|Jaime Mayor Oreja|
|Minister of the Interior|
4 May 1996 – 27 February 2001
|Prime Minister||José María Aznar|
|Preceded by||Juan Alberto Belloch|
|Succeeded by||Mariano Rajoy|
|Member of the European Parliament|
13 July 2004 – 25 May 2014
|Member of the Congress of Deputies|
3 March 1996 – 24 April 2001
1 April 1979 – 28 October 1982
|Member of the Basque Parliament|
8 June 2001 – 28 July 2004
18 December 1990 – 29 March 1996
22 March 1984 – October 1, 1986
|Political party||People's Party (1989–present)|
|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.
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.
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
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.
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
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, 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. 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. 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, particularly after missing a key vote in 2002 that enabled the Ibarretxe government to pass its budget by just one vote (Mayor Oreja's).
In 2004 he was named as a potential successor to the outgoing Spanish prime minister José María Aznar, 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 and LGBT rights, and his hard-line stance against terrorism, 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, Mayor Oreja decided not to run again for the European Parliament in the 2014 election, and largely abandoned public life.
- "Noticias de terrorismo". Lukor (in Spanish). July 22, 2009. Archived from the original on July 22, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
- "El último revolucionario". El Diario Vasco (in Spanish). April 30, 2006. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
- J. Tussell, El aznarato: El gobierno del Partido Popular 1996-2003, Penguin Random House Grupo, Madrid, 2012.