Ana Botella, the wife of former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, was sworn-in Tuesday as Madrid’s first woman mayor.
She succeeds Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, mayor of the capital since 2003, who resigned to serve as justice minister in the new government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Botella, 58, became a member of the city council in 2003, during her husband’s 1996-2004 tenure as prime minister, but has been active in the conservative Popular Party since 1978.
She occupied the second spot on the PP ticket in the May 22 municipal elections that gave Ruiz-Gallardon a third consecutive term as capital mayor.
In her first speech as mayor, Botella pledged to govern the city with austerity tempered by concern for the poor, the elderly, the unemployed and people living on the margins of society.
Botella, whose swearing-in ceremony was attended by six members of Rajoy’s Cabinet, said she will soon implement a “specific plan to contain spending” by the municipal government.
She faces the challenge of dealing with a municipal debt of 6.35 billion euros ($8.25 billion), the legacy of big projects undertaken by Ruiz-Gallardon, who led an unsuccessful bid to bring the 2012 Olympics to Madrid.
The new mayor will also have to come up with a way to bring the capital’s air-quality up to European Union standards.