Spanish King Felipe VI yesterday swore in the country’s new pro-European Union government, with women holding the majority of ministerial posts.
Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez named 11 women to top posts including defence and economy in a cabinet with six male ministers. That makes it the European government with the highest ratio of female cabinet ministers, ahead of Sweden’s, which has 12 women and 11 men.
But Sanchez’s administration risks not lasting until the end of the current mandate in 2020, however, given the fragmented state of Spain’s political parties. His Socialist Party holds just 84 seats in the 350-seat congress, the smallest parliamentary presence of any Spanish government since the return to democracy in the 1970s.
Sanchez, 46, ousted conservative veteran Mariano Rajoy as prime minister last Friday in a parliamentary no-confidence vote. The vote was sparked by corruption convictions against former officials from Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP), which had governed for six years.
At yesterday’s ceremony, the ministers broke with tradition by taking their oaths on the constitution rather than the Bible. They followed the example set by Sanchez, who became the first Spanish prime minister to forego religious symbols during his own swearing-in on Saturday.
The first minister to take the oath was veteran Socialist Carmen Calvo, a former culture minister, who became deputy prime minister and will also be in charge of equality.
Equality is a priority for Sanchez’s government in a country where women staged an unprecedented strike to defend their rights in March. Calvo said her government would work to “build the greatest equality, that between men and women”.
The first measure the Socialists will propose to congress concerns gender violence training for judicial officials, the head of the party’s parliamentary group, Adriana Lastra, told reporters.
With its parliamentary minority, the government will rely on the votes of far-left party Podemos as well as Basque and Catalan nationalist lawmakers who supported his confidence motion.
Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias wished the new government “good luck”, adding during a TV interview that trying to govern with such a small minority “would probably be an ordeal” for Sanchez.