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Could this be Spain's own Maggie Thatcher?

The Local · 15 Feb 2016, 17:45

Published: 09 Mar 2015 17:45 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Feb 2016 17:45 GMT+01:00

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Fresh allegations of corruption within the Madrid branch of the Popular Party has led to Aguirre tendering her resignation as regional head of the party.

At The Local we don't believe for a minute that this is the last we will see of a woman who puts personality into politics. 

The Local gives you ten reasons why Esperanza Aguirre is Spain's answer to the Iron Lady.

Photos: AFP

1 - Both are women pioneers in politics

Like Margaret Thatcher, Aguirre has been exemplary in forging a path through the traditionally male dominated sphere of politics.

Thatcher, then Margaret Roberts, became president of Oxford University Conservative Association in 1946, before dedicating her life to conservative politics. Rising up through the ranks from MP for Finchley in 1959 to becoming the first woman prime minister in 1979, she won three elections before stepping down in 1990.

Aguirre's rise through the ranks was similarly meteoric. Starting out as a local councillor she became Minister of Education, Culture and Sport between 1996-1999 during Aznar´s government .She was the first president of the Senate (the first woman to be elected) from 1999-2002) and President of Madrid from 2001-2012, becoming the first female president of any of Spain's 17 semi-autonomous regions.

Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

2. They are both Conservative hardliners

Both Thatcher and Aguirre are true blue through and through.

Aguirre expressed her admiration of Thatcherism in a blog written to commemorate the naming of a square after Thatcher in Madrid calling her a "patriot" who "believed in the fundamental importance of freedom and responsibility of individual citizen."

Aguirre described how Thatcher had taken a Britain mired in deep economic depression and transformed it - a lesson she hoped the political class of Spain could learn from.

 3. They both attended very old universities

Both women attended the oldest universities in their countries - Aguirre studied Law at Madrid’s Complutense University, which dates back to 1293 while Thatcher studied Chemistry at Oxford University, which was founded in 1096.

Photo: Shutterstock

4. They both studied law

Aguirre studied law at Madrid’s Complutense University while Margaret Thatcher took up after an undergraduate degree in Chemistry.  Thatcher switched to law at City University. Just months after giving birth to twins Carole and Mark in 1953, she passed the bar and became a barrister - showing an early knack for multitasking. 

5. They have both been awarded honours from Queen Elizabeth II

Aguirre was awarded an honorary Damehood in 2004, the first Spanish woman to be bestowed with such an honour. No stranger to fancy titles, Aguirre, who was born into a noble family, also has the title of the Countess of Bornos.

Thatcher was given a life peerage in 1992, becoming Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, which entitled her to sit in the House of Lords.

6. They both survived terrorist attacks

Margaret Thatcher narrowly escaped injury when, during the Conservative Party Conference on October 12th 1984, a bomb exploded in the Grand Hotel, Brighton, where Thatcher and her cabinet were staying. It had been planted by the IRA, whose aim was to kill Thatcher and her Conservative cabinet. Five people were killed in the blast and 31 were injured.

Aguirre was caught up in the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008 during an official visit to India, but was unharmed. Terrorists began shooting as she was checking in to the Hotel Oberoi; she described hearing the "burst of a machine gun" in a press conference on her return to Spain.

7. The both share the same nickname

Margaret Thatcher was christened the Iron Lady by a Soviet propagandist while she was still leader of the opposition and three years before she became Britain’s first female Prime Minister.

"Dama de Hierro", or Iron Lady in Spanish, is a phrase often rolled out to describe Esperanza Aguirre in the Spanish media. "Esperanza Aguirre, the Iron Lady: 'I am not a puppet'," read one headline this week.

8. The have both spoken in the British Houses of Parliament

Story continues below…

While Margaret Thatcher spoke in the Houses of Parliament thousands of times, it may come as a surprise to learn that Esperanza Aguirre has also taken a turn at the podium in the home of British politics. In 2014, the then ex-President of Madrid made a speech, in English, during a dinner in her honour in the House of Commons. She spoke beforehand about it being an honour to speak where two of her political heroes - Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher - had spoken. 

9. They both served as Secretary of State for Education

Both Thatcher and Aguirre served as Education Minister and both saw a specific kind of school really take off during their time in the position. Thatcher had her comprehensive schools while Aguirre has pushed bilingual schools in Madrid, maybe inspired by her own bilingual education.

Photo: Franki Chan/AFP

10. They share a similar style

You would be forgiven for thinking Thatcher is an inspiration for Aguirre in more ways than politics. She is a fan of a snappy suit, blonde coiffed hairdo and the colour blue, and knows the importance of a well matched handbag.

Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

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