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Zapatero picks more women than men for new cabinet of ministers
The Prime Minister’s “example to follow” includes appointing a pregnant Minister of Defence and creating a Ministry for Equality
13.05.08 - 13:25 -
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Zapatero picks more women than men for new cabinet of ministers
LA ZARZUELA. Zapatero was sworn in last Saturday. / AFP
It was inevitable that José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero would make some changes to his cabinet following his reelection as Prime Minister of Spain. He himself explained on Saturday, after being official sworn in as Prime Minister in front of the King and Queen at La Zarzuela palace, that he wanted to set a good example with his choice of ministers, or in other words “practise what he preaches”. Here he was referring specifically to the fact that for the first time ever Spain has more female ministers than male (nine women and eight men) making the full cabinet completely equal as he takes the place of the ninth male.

Putting a woman, Carme Chacón, the former Minister for Housing who also happens to be seven months pregnant, at the head of the Ministry of Defence, is another of the changes Zapatero claims to be most proud of, as is creating a new ministry, that of Equality, to be run by Spain’s youngest ever Government Minister, 31 year old Bibiano Aído of Cadiz. She has gained promotion with the help of the President of the Junta de Andalucía, Manuel Chaves.

With all this Zapatero aims to fulfil one of his three objectives of this new term of office: to achieve equality for women both socially and in the workplace and to fight “relentlessly” against domestic violence.

The Prime Minister’s other two objectives are to adapt the economy to a new growth pattern and tackle climate change. On the economics side Pedro Solbes, at 66 the oldest cabinet minister, has been trusted for another term with the Finance Ministry as well as remaining in his position as the second of the two Deputy Prime Ministers. But it will be one of the newcomers, Cristina Garmendia, who, at the helm of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, has the job of making the country’s economy less dependent on construction and better equipped to take advantage of scientific advancement and new technology, explained Zapatero earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce has been put in the hands of Miguel Sebastián, in apparent compensation for his having the courage to take on the difficult job of trying to win back Madrid City Hall for the PSOE from the popular PP mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón in last year’s municipal elections.

Environment

Another change introduced is the fusion of the Environment Ministry with Agriculture and Fisheries to form the ‘Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Medio Rural y Marino’, to be taken on by Elena Espinosa who until now has only had the agricultural side of things to contend with.

Along with Pedro Solbes, several other ministers keep their old jobs, including the woman described as Zapatero’s “alter ego”, Teresa Fernández de la Vega. She continues as the first Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Ministry of the Presidency.

Magdalena Álvarez had to cope with severe criticism during the last term of office but also chalked up some great achievements and stays in her job as Minister of Development. This could be interpreted as good news for Malaga, her home ground, as so far she has helped with the progress of a number of important infrastructure projects, ranging from the AVE to the outer ring road and the airport expansion.

Another minister to have survived criticism received during the last four years is Miguel Ángel Moratinos who continues in his job as Foreign Minister, at least say rumours, until the end of Spain’s presidency of the EU in 2010. His targets this time round include improving relations with the US and increasing cooperation with the Third World.

Dealing with domestic issues, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba remains at the helm of the Ministry of the Interior to tackle the ongoing task of fighting terrorism and organised crime. Improving coordination between security forces is one of his objectives.

The Ministry of Justice continues to be trusted to Mariano Fernández Bermejo, who took over in February 2007, while Elena Salgado remains in charge of the Ministry of Public Administration.

Mercedes Cabrera has suffered a slight change in job description going from being in charge of simply Education to Minister of Education, Social Policy and Sport, one of her main objectives being to prepare Spain’s universities for the European Higher Education Area project due to become a reality in 2010.

Bernat Soria was a leader in embryonic stem cell research before becoming Minister of Health and Consumer Affairs in July 2007, a role he holds on to for this new term of office. Similarly the Minister of Culture, César Antonio Molina, who also arrived in the reshuffle of July 2007, continues in his job.

That leaves just two more newcomers. Celestino Corbacho takes over from Jesús Caldera as Minister of Employment, and Beatriz Corredor becomes the new Minister for Housing.
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