Spain can still surprise us

King Felipe VI with Pedro Sanchez and his newly sworn-in cabinet, 7 June 2018

I am very glad to be wrong.  Or to put it more exactly, I am glad the prognostications of the largely conservative Spanish media were needlessly pessimistic and quite ignorant in their understanding of what preparations had been made by the socialist leader Pedro Sànchez before the sudden surprise demolition of Mariano Rajoy’s government last week.

A full plan was in place and just awaiting the opportunity to implement it, and the government Sànchez put together – in just five days – has won Spain over.  Not only does it have eleven women ministers (a 60% majority in a cabinet of 17, which is an all-time European record) but a third of them are not members of the PSOE party but picked for their technical expertise.

Who better than Pedro Duque – Spain’s first astronaut – as Minister of Science?

The high court judge appointed to the cabinet as Minister of the Interior would be deemed too conservative if the conservatives had appointed him!

Nadia Calviño the Finance Minister – like many in the cabinet with Brussels EU experience – speaks perfect English, German, French

The appointment of eleven women includes the creation of an Equalities Minister.  This is sending out a clear message to everyone in Spain: machismo is over, equal opportunities and equal pay are the expected norm. The new Minister of Culture and Sport is a declared enemy of bullfighting (but he has already run into trouble as his old tweets also reveal he hates sport.)


Since the market was cancelled in Vila today due to a fairground occupying the marketplace, I had a beer in a bar and watched the swearing in ceremony, the investment of the ministers in the royal palace, the Zarzuela.  Last week people were in shock.  They are again today: “What are all these women doing running the country?  Where did they come from?”

Yes, we never noticed most of them before.  They are some of the best qualified and experienced people in Spain and the curtain has been pulled back to show us who should be running the country.  And they will be.

A political commentator in “Información de Alicante” writes today: “How could political commentators have been so wrong last week, talking about a ‘Frankenstein government’?  We don’t know anything.”

It just goes to show how political commentators can be so right when they have been so wrong.

Next Tuesday Rubí donkey will write her Rubí Tuesday blog, having spotted the interesting fact that you only get gender equality if there’s an astronaut in the government.

Astronaut minister and two of the 11 new women ministers receiving their ministerial briefcases.

Update 19.30

A story has emerged this evening about the formula adopted for the swearing in ceremony of the ministers before King Felipe. They each had to read a text which said they promised to keep the secrets of the cabinet, the “Consejo de Ministros,” etc. etc. and the first – the Minister of Justice – just read the text. The second was the Equalities Minister and she spontaneously said “Ministras y ministros” and glanced pointedly in the direction of the King and Prime Minister.

Then all the rest in their turn used the same formula, ignoring the printed text.

This story is being reported in such a way this will now surely become the new title for the cabinet: “Consejo de Ministras y Ministros” and there’s no going back.

Yesterday there had been some discussion about this , as to whether a majority female cabinet should be called “Consejo de Ministras” but the RAE (Spanish Royal Academy) pronounced on the linguistics and said the masculine must be used for a collective of males and females.  (E.g. my donkeys are mostly female but include one male, so they are my “burros” not my “burras”.)

What is in no doubt is that gender equality is now in the centre of Spanish social and political life.

4 thoughts on “Spain can still surprise us

  1. Yes, I hope Theresa May and her ‘government’ are looking on and taking notes. Theresa May and her female predecessor Margaret Thatcher have hardly been a positive input into the representation of women in politics… Very pleased with how it seems to be developing in Spain at the moment. Let’s hope it proves to be successful! Perhaps Spain will be able to inject some fresh wisdom into Brexit, or at least the Spanish-British dialogues.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The water lorry came to deliver today and the water man is quite furious about the new government. “We didn’t have any vote!” And this is a growing call in grass roots Spain. The Spanish are very proud of their democracy – having been deprived of it during the Franco years – and the vote of censure may be a constitutional way to replace a government but it has never succeeded before, so many people do not understand it. The majority female cabinet is clearly unpopular with some men as well. It is going to be interesting, as Sànchez still only has 84 seats out of 300 in the parliament.


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