Spain’s new PM, Pedro Sánchez, who only managed to grabbed power thanks to a corruption scandal in the Conservative Party (PP), is assembling a strongly pro-European cabinet which demonstrates that unlike the new Italian government, Spain’s government remains more committed than ever to the EU project and that Madrid’s deficit reduction commitments to the EU will be respected under Sánchez. Time will tell what the people think of this, but no one is celebrating in the streets as they are in Italy.
The new cabinet also includes two Catalans, whose anti-separatist stance has put them at odds with the regional government there, and whose presence sends the clear message, that despite relying on the Catalan-separatist vote to oust Rajoy, the unity of Spain remains non-negotiable.
The other stark fact about the new cabinet is that, for the first time, women outnumber men.
So far, only 12 cabinet positions of a possible 15 plus the role of Congressional party spokesman have been confirmed. And the roles have overwhelmingly been given to women and at a time when women’s rights and issues of equality remain at the forefront of Spanish politics, this can only be a good thing.
The 46-year-old former economics professor sailed into the history books as the first Spanish politician to unseat a prime minister through a motion of no-confidence.
This remarkable feat was achieved despite the fact that Sánchez is not even an MP after he was forced out as party leader two years ago in a party revolt over refusal to break the political deadlock following two inconclusive general elections.
He then beat off a challenge by Susana Díaz, president of the PSOE in Andalusia to be re-elected seven months later.
Nicknamed ‘the comeback-kid’ and ‘Mr Handsome’ – he speaks good English and French.
For Economy Minister Sanchez Appointed an EU Budget Minister, Nadia Calviño, a move that has been welcomed by Brussels.
She has been director general for budget at the European Commission, but has previous experience in the economy ministry under both the conservatives and Socialists before leaving for the European Union in 2006.
His Foreign Minister pick is Josep Borrell, a minister whose appointment not only sends the message of Spain’s commitment to Europe but also serves to make a stand on Catalonia. Borrell is from Catalonia and has been very vocal in his opposition to the wealthy northeastern region’s separatist drive, drawing criticism from independence supporters there.
With even stronger EU history, this 71-year-old was president of the European parliament between 2004 and 2007. He also served as deputy finance minister, and then public works minister, under former Socialist prime minister Felipe González, who was in power between 1982 and 1996.
For a brief period he was leader of the Socialists when they were in opposition in 1998 but was forced to resign a year later after he too was implicated in a financial scandal involving two of his former co-workers when he was deputy finance minister.
“Borrell’s appointment makes the government’s stance on Catalonia very clear,” the Socialist party’s head of organisation José Luís Ábalos said on Tuesday. “We aren’t negotiating or committing to anything.”
Another Catalan, Meritxell Batet, has been chosen to become minister in charge of relations with Spain’s regions. She will have the prickly task (treasonous?) of trying to assert Spanish domination in the situation in her deeply divided home region.
The only question left to ask now, is will Spain become the new migrant gateway to Europe to replace Italy?