Spain’s conservative People’s Party (PP) has chosen a 37-year-old economist and lawyer, Pablo Casado, as its new leader to replace former prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, who was removed in a trust vote last month.
Casado secured 57% votes beating former deputy prime minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, who conceded defeat even before the results were announced.
More than 3,000 PP members cast their ballots in the party congress held in Madrid on Saturday.
General elections are due by 2020 and Casado will become the next prime minister if PP wins. The PP is still the strongest party in the Congress despite losing its absolute majority.
As party chief, Casado’s main challenge would be to win back three million voters who shifted their loyalties to other parties after PP was hit by corruption scandals during Rajoy’s two terms in power.
Ahead of the national polls, he will have to ensure victory for PP in local, regional and European elections next year.
Casado maintains a tough stand on Catalonia. He opposes the present socialist government’s view of de-penalising euthanasia and wants income and corporate taxes to be brought down. As a leader, he wants Spain to be stronger and more united.
Ahead of the vote, congress paid tributes to 65-year-old Rajoy.