Cameron, a descendant of King William IV, was born into a family with both wealth and an aristocratic pedigree. He attended Eton College and Brasenose College, Oxford, from which he graduated (1988) with a first-class degree in philosophy, politics, and economics. AfterOxford he joined the Conservative Party Research Department. In 1992 he became a special adviser to Norman Lamont, then chancellor of the Exchequer, and the following year he undertook the same role for Michael Howard, then home secretary. Cameron joined the media company Carlton Communications in 1994 as director of corporate affairs. He stayed at Carlton until entering Parliament in 2001 as MPfor Witney, northwest of London.
Cameron quickly attracted attention as the leading member of a new generation of Conservatives: young, moderate, and charismatic. He was widely compared to Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had acquired a similar reputation when he entered Parliament 18 years earlier. After just two years as an MP, Cameron was appointed to his party's “front bench”—making hima leading Conservative spokesman in the House of Commons. In 2004 Howard, by then party leader, appointed his young protégé to the post of head of policy coordination, which put Cameron in charge of preparing the Conservatives' 2005 election manifesto. The party, however, suffered a heavy defeat at the polls, provoking Howard's resignation. Cameron's self-assured speech at the party's annualconference in October 2005 transformed his reputation, and he was subsequently elected Conservative leader.
Cameron sought to modernize the party and shed its right-wing image. He announced that economic stability and strong public services would be a priority over tax cuts in the next Conservative government. Under his leadership, the party grew in popularity and placed first in the 2006 localelections; it was the Conservatives' best showing at the polls in some 15 years.
In the immediate aftermath of Gordon Brown succeeding Blair as Labour leader and prime minister in 2007, the Conservatives began to trail in the polls, encouraging the prime minister to consider calling a snap election to capitalize on Labour's momentum. By the time Labour held its party conference in September, it had adouble-digit lead over the Conservatives. But, at the Conservative Party conference in early October, Cameron made an impressive speech, talking for more than an hour without a script. In reference to the upcoming European Union summit in Lisbon to negotiate a treaty on reform, Cameron lambasted Brown for ruling out a referendum on an agreement (contrary to the prime minister's commitment to holdone on a European constitution). In addition to other issues, Cameron also was critical of Labour's performance on crime and with regard to the National Health Service. Most daringly, despite trailing in the polls, he goaded the prime minister to call an election:
So, Mr Brown, what's it going to be? Why don't you go ahead and call that election? Let the people pass judgement on 10 years ofbroken promises, let people decide who's really making the arguments about the future of our country. Let people decide who can make the changes that we really need in our country. Call that election. We will fight. Britain will win.
Calderón comes from a political family. His father, Luís Calderón Vega, was one of several founders of the PAN party, at a time when Mexico was basically ruled by oneparty only, the PRI or Revolutionary Party. An excellent student, Felipe earned degrees in law and economics in Mexico before going to Harvard University, where he received a Masters of Public Administration. He joined the PAN as a young man and quickly proved capable of important posts within the party structure.
Calderón served as a representative in the Federal Chamber of...