On Saturday, 95.65% of nominated Popular Party electors from around the country chose to reelect Mariano Rajoy as the chairman of their party, during the party's 18th conference, held in Madrid.

No other candidate chose to compete against Mr. Rajoy, although his victory was slightly smaller than in 2012, when he won 97.56% of the vote.

Despite his resounding, uncontested win, he insisted the PP was party that was open to reform and change: "We are people who are capable of evolving and adapting, we are not a rigid, immovable structure. We change when it is necessary to adapt and remain in first place".

"We are reformist", he said: "but at our pace, that imposed by circumstances and the needs of society".

"We reject populisms and fight against them with the truth, good management and exemplary behaviour."

He also warned, on Sunday morning, that there would be no negotiations over an "illegal" referendum in Catalonia, labelling the separatist process "outrageous": "we are not going to accept a referendum".

He said he was open to dialogue but not "impositions, monologues or membership contracts". Independence supporters in the region, he added, had been "fooled" by "the lure of independence".

"A secession process is not pleasant pruning done by a kind gardener but a terrible, painful amputation that no surgeon can save."

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría (PP) said: "I believe we have a strong Rajoy, for as long as he and the PP want him".

The First Minister of Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes (PP), said: "it is clear that Rajoy's leadership is indisputable".

Mariano Rajoy was first elected as a regional MP in Galicia for Alianza Popular, which later became the Popular Party, in 1981, led four different ministries under José María Aznar before ending up as Mr. Aznar's Deputy Prime Minister in April 2000.

He was then appointed as leader of the PP by Mr. Aznar in 2003, lost his first general election against José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero three days after the March 11 train bombings which shook Spain, and was first elected as chairman of the PP in 2004, on 98.37% of the vote.

After spending nearly eight years in opposition against Mr. Zapatero, he won a general election and became Prime Minister in 2011, with an overall majority linked to Spaniards' outrage at the PSOE's handling of the global financial crisis and its effects in Spain.