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Aznar: I don't mind not being liked

March 8, 2004 at 5:50 PM

MADRID, March 8 (UPI) -- Spain's Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar says being told he lacks charisma doesn't bother him, because "what leaders need are ideas and convictions."

"They've told me, you're not very pleasant, in fact you're a bit authoritarian," Aznar told the French newspaper Le Monde Monday. "But it's all the same to me. It's even rather amusing."

The two-term conservative prime minister is not a candidate in Sunday's election, but the ruling Popular Party led by his handpicked successor Mariano Rajoy is expected to win at least a relative majority.

"Of course, one prefers to be liked, but the important thing is to do what one has to do and remain oneself," he said. In his first election campaign eight years ago, he recalled, he was known as "the man with the mustache."

"An image consultant told me: shave off your mustache and your popularity rate will immediately go up four or five points," he said. "I said no. Yet the Spanish public elected me twice and that's what counts. And my party is set to win for the third time."

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