Politics 31/03/2021

An unprecedented government with four women vice presidents

Iglesias leaves pointing towards the "limits and contradictions" of the PSOE while Sánchez guarantees "unity" within the coalition

3 min
Pedro Sánchez with the four vice-presidents of the Spanish government: Yolanda Díaz, Carmen Calvo, Nadia Calviño and Teresa Ribera.

MadridThe figure of the vice-presidency has a long history in Spain. It is a position of balance: between being the right hand of the president where he does not reach, to act as a counterweight when there are different souls in the government, or to respond to burning issues - as in contexts of economic crisis. Suárez's government after the dictatorship already had three at the same time to try to calm the military during the Transition. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's government also raised the counter again to three. But until the arrival of the first coalition government of the recent democracy there had never been four. Pedro Sánchez's decision in January 2020 was interpreted as a way to subtract weight from the power of the leader of Podemos. With the departure this Tuesday of Pablo Iglesias from the Spanish government, the president achieves another unprecedented milestone - both in Spain and the rest of the world - that of having four women vice presidents.

The Spanish president has formalized this Tuesday afternoon without any surprise the surgical changes in the Spanish government agreed on with the purple party two weeks ago. The Minister of Economy, Nadia Calviño, has assumed the second vice presidency on Wednesday, and in turn the Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, has taken the reins of the third. On the other hand, the hitherto Secretary of State for Agenda 2030, Ione Belarra, has become the new Minister of Social Rights. Sánchez has boasted in this sense of "feminist government", since there will be 12 women ministers and 11 ministers - however, the proportion is lower than in his previous government, where women accounted for 65% of the positions - "We are the only government in the world with four women vice presidents", said the Spanish president, who has expressed "absolute confidence and gratitude" in the work that ministers Calviño, Diaz and Belarra have done so far.

The coalition agreement, "intact"

Sánchez also wanted to send a clear message that the coalition remains "united" and "keeps the agreement intact" despite the departure of Iglesias, who has said goodbye in a short video boasting of his management despite the "limits and contradictions" of the PSOE. The Moncloa, unlike the case of Salvador Illa, did not invite the leader of Podemos to leave with a press conference after the council of ministers despite the fact that his department has approved an item of 683 million in dependence.

However, after months of continuous tensions, the farewell in the council of ministers has been "emotional", as sources in the administration have reported. All ministers have said goodbye to Iglesias with a loud applause, after Sánchez also dedicated words of "affection" and recognition for the task and "responsibility" carried out during 14 months that "have seemed like years", in the words of the spokeswoman minister, Maria Jesus Montero. Unlike the video of two weeks ago, when Iglesias used his office as vice president to campaign against the PP of Isabel Díaz Ayuso - as a result of this the Electoral Board of Madrid has communicated an infraction - this Tuesday he has focused on the task of the executive.

Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias during the Podemos leader's last council of ministers.

However, some criticisms have also fallen at the gates of the campaign, after Sanchez warned him that he had to renounce to "extremism" in Madrid. Iglesias has admitted that during the months in the executive he has clashed with "oligarchies that exercise their enormous power" and that this, added to the correlation of forces in the coalition, has generated many "limits and contradictions" for Podemos but that the party has also shown that "no one can buy them" and that "things can be done better". With the departure of Iglesias, the most discordant voice in the coalition government is leaving, and it remains to be seen what role Díaz, whom the leader of Podemos has appointed as his successor, will assume.

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