Spanish PM Sanchez unveils sweeping cabinet reshuffle

The prime minister said the new government’s focus would be to overcome the economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. [EFE/Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa]

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has unveiled a thorough reshuffle of his cabinet, swapping out heavyweight ministers in the fields of foreign affairs and justice while boosting the representation of women and reducing the average age of the government. EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.

“The new government involves, firstly, a generational renovation, the average age of the previous executive was 55 years and in the new government it will be 50 years,” Sánchez said in a televised address on Saturday setting out the changes for his new government still led by his Socialist Party PSOE and junior left-wing partner Unidas Podemos.

“The new government will further strengthen the presence of women in charge of the ministries. Before the share was 54% and today it is 63%, which will once again mean our country sets an example in gender equality,” he added.

The prime minister said the new government’s focus would be to overcome the economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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As part of the changes, Spain’s former Ambassador to France Manuel Albares has replaced now former foreign minister Arancha González Laya, who was recently tested by Spain’s diplomatic spat with Morocco.

Nadia Calviño, who has kept her post as economy and digital transformation minister, has replaced Carmen Calvo – a pillar of the Sánchez government – as first deputy PM.

Diana Morant has replaced Pedro Duque, an astronaut who led the science and innovation ministry, while Juan Carlos Campo was dropped from the justice ministry in favour of Pilar Llop.  Also, Pilar Alegría replaced Isabel Celaá at the education ministry.

José Luis Ábalos was dropped from the transport ministry to make way for Raquel Sánchez while Miquel Iceta, the leader of the Socialist Party’s Catalonia branch during the fallout of the illegal independence referendum in 2017, was moved to the sport and culture ministry.

Meanwhile, Félix Bolaños was promoted to lead the ministry of the presidency, relations with the Cortes and democratic memory, a title that Calvo also lost.

Yolanda Díaz, the leader of Unidas Podemos, was promoted to second deputy prime minister, replacing Pablo Iglesias, the former party chief who retired from active politics this year.

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This was Sánchez’s first major cabinet reshuffle since his second government was launched last year and the first change since the departure of Iglesias and Salvador Illa as health minister.

Government sources said the reshuffle aimed to politically strengthen the executive before the next legislative session and comes after Sánchez pardoned nine Catalan politicians and activists jailed for their involvement in the illegal referendum and subsequent declaration of independence.

[Edited by Daniel Eck]

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