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Cablegate: Manuel Pizarro to Run As Mariano Rajoy's Number

VZCZCXYZ0018
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMD #0043 0161221
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 161221Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4074

UNCLAS MADRID 000043

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON SP
SUBJECT: MANUEL PIZARRO TO RUN AS MARIANO RAJOY'S NUMBER
TWO ON THE PP MADRID PARLIAMENTARY LIST


1. The opposition conservative PP leader, Mariano Rajoy,
announced on 1/15/08 that the former head of energy utility
Endesa, Manuel Pizarro, would occupy the number two spot on
the PP's Madrid parliamentary list. Rajoy has the number one
spot on the list. Should the PP win, Pizarro would likely
take Second Vice President and Finance Minister Solbes' job.
Pizarro has been close to the PP for many years and is a
friend of Jose Maria Aznar's. He reportedly turned down a
chance to join Aznar's government in 1996 in order to
concentrate on business. From 2005 to 2007, he defended
energy giant Endesa against a hostile takeover bid from Gas
Natural that the socialist government favored. He was
partially successful in that Gas Natural eventually bowed out
of the contest to buy Endesa. In the end, Germany's Eon (the
company favored by Pizarro) was able to acquire some of
Endesa's assets, but the Zapatero government was able to
ensure that major parts of the company remained in the hands
of Spanish construction firm Acciona and an Italian utility
(Enel). Pizarro is 56 years old and a graduate of University
Complutense de Madrid. At the age of 29, he became a "State
Lawyer" (Abogado del Estado), which is a prestigious
merit-based position. Pizarro is also a member of the Royal
Academy of Economic and Financial Sciences. The former head
of Endesa is wealthy. Upon leaving the company in 2007, he
received euros 12 million after having been paid over euros 3
million in 2006.

2 Comment: Spanish commentators are having a field day with
the announcement. Most observers think that Rajoy has come
up with a winner with this recruit to the PP cause for two
reasons. First, whatever people think of Pizarro's politics,
he is widely respected for his professionalism and tenacity.
Although he is not an academic economist, many people think
he is a worthy opponent to Zapatero's Madrid number two
socialist parliamentary candidate, the widely respected
Second Vice President and Finance Minister Pedro Solbes. The
Pizarro pick is a sign that the PP intends to emphasize
economics more during the election campaign. Second, picking
Pizarro gives Rajoy cover not to pick Madrid Mayor Alberto
Ruiz Gallardon as his number two, something that many
commentators thought was likely. The PP in Madrid is divided
between supporters of Autonomous Community of Madrid
President Esperanza Aguirre and Madrid Mayor Gallardon. Had
Gallardon been chosen to run as number two, this would have
opened up fissures with Aguirre. In terms of the general
election battle, the Pizarro pick signals that the PP is
gearing up for a bare-knuckle fight. Pizarro proved to be a
no holds-barred opponent and critic of the socialist
government during the Endesa takeover battle. More of the
same can be expected from Pizarro during the coming weeks.

AGUIRRE

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