Spanish PM unveils younger Cabinet dominated by women

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the reshuffle represented "a generational renewal". PHOTO: AFP/LA MONCLOA

MADRID (AFP) - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday (July 10) reshuffled his government for the first time since the left-wing coalition came to power in January 2020.

Sanchez said it represented "a generational renewal" because the mean age of the ministers was now 50 instead of 55.

And women now make up 63 per cent over 54 per cent in the previous government.

"This will make our country once again the reference for women-men equality," Sanchez said.

His minority coalition is composed of Socialists and the radical-left Podemos party.

Podemos kept their five portfolios in the 22-member Cabinet.

Foreign Affairs Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya was replaced by Jose Manuel Albares, who was Spain's ambassador to France. Socialist Carmen Calvo, who was number two in the government, has also left the cabinet.

Sanchez presented the reshuffle to the king earlier in the day.

The Spanish government had been weakened over the past several months.

Early in May, Podemos and the Socialists were routed in regional elections in Madrid by the conservative Popular Party (PP).

The PP has surged ahead of the Socialists in opinion polls following that election - at the end of May, polls showed the PP and the far-right Vox together would win an absolute majority in parliament if a general election were held.

The government's decision in June to pardon nine Catalan separatists has also drained support.

Cabinet newcomers include: (top, from left) Raquel Sanchez, minister for transport, mobility and urban agenda; Diana Morant, minister for science and innovation; Pilar Alegria, minister for education; Isabel Rodriguez, minister for territorial policy and government spokeswoman; (bottom, from left) Felix Bolanos, minister of presidency; Pilar Llop, minister of justice, and Jose Manuel Albares, minister of foreign affairs. PHOTO: AFP

The pardons have been condemned by Spain's right-wing opposition as well as by the Supreme Court, but Madrid hoped they would give impetus to talks with Catalonia's new leader, Pere Aragones, who was more open to dialogue than his hardline predecessor.

Since Sanchez's coalition came to power, it has relied in part on the support of ERC, a leftist Catalan separatist party, which in return demanded talks on resolving the separatist conflict in wealthy Catalonia.

A week after the pardons, Aragones said separatists would resume talks with the government in the second half of September.

An Ipsos poll in June found that 53 per cent of Spaniards opposed the pardons, but 68 per cent of Catalans were in favour.

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