PP'S INTERNAL PROBLEMS

PP leader in Europe Mayor Oreja will not stand in next elections

Veteran spokesman in European Parliament offers no explanation as to why he is stepping down

Jaime Mayor Oreja, the Popular Party (PP) spokesman in the European Parliament who for a decade had been one of Spain’s leading conservative voices in Brussels and Strasbourg, announced on Monday he will not run for re-election in the May 25 European race.

In a statement issued by the PP, Mayor Oreja’s decision is “a personal one” but the party did not explain his exact reasons.

A former interior minister in the PP government of José María Aznar, Mayor Oreja told Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on January 9 that he will not head the PP slate of candidates this year or run for euro deputy. He reiterated his decision last Friday in a telephone call to the prime minister.

“The Popular Party is deeply thankful to Jaime Mayor Oreja for his work, effort and dedication after many years serving in positions with major responsibilities within the party as well as in Spanish government,” the statement said.

The 62-year-old San Sebastián native has been one of the key voices in the fight against ETA. He has vigorously defended the victims of terrorism, and during the previous Socialist government, Mayor Oreja accused then-Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of holding secret talks with the Basque terrorist group – an allegation that the administration vehemently denied.

Besides serving as interior minister, Mayor Oreja was also a member of Congress and unsuccessfully ran for Basque regional premier. He has been a euro deputy for the last decade, heading the PP slate in the 2004 and 2009 elections.

His clashes with the Rajoy administration have been well publicized. He has been critical of the government for not looking more deeply into the origins and reasons for the economic crisis and for not taking a stronger stance against Catalan separatism.

At the weekend it emerged that Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a vice president of the European Parliament, is to leave the PP.

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