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Lawyer Casado elected new leader of Spain’s Popular Party

July 21, 2018

FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, May 31, 2018, Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Popular Party leader listens to speeches during the first day of a motion of no confidence session at the Spanish parliament in Madrid. Former Spanish prime minister and veteran politician Mariano Rajoy on Friday July 20, 2018, vowed loyalty to his Popular Party in an emotional farewell. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, FILE)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Rising conservative politician Pablo Casado has been elected as new leader of Spain’s Popular Party in a landslide victory, ending a bitter and divisive election.

The 37-year-old lawyer beat his opponent, former deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, with 1701 votes against 1250 on Saturday.

Casado succeeds former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who stepped down last month after losing a parliamentary vote to his socialist opponent, Pedro Sanchez, in the wake of graft convictions for members of the PP.

“We must return to the center of Spanish society to make sure our work is not undone,” Casado said in his victory speech. He also promised to defend the values of “life and family.”

Casado was chief of staff to then Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar from 2009 to 2012.

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