José Manuel Albares, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, has assumed his ministerial portfolio with a clear gesture of détente towards Morocco, with whom Spain is trying to rebuild ties. “We must strengthen our relations, especially with Morocco, our great friend.” Albares has spoken these words when the diplomatic crisis that crystallized in the entry of more than 10,000 migrants into Ceuta last May has not yet been overcome, but which dragged on since December, when the United States recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara Occidental and Morocco began to press for Spain to pronounce in the same direction. The very departure of his predecessor, Arancha González Laya, has been interpreted as a gesture to unblock dialogue with one of the main Spanish partners in the fight against terrorism and irregular immigration. González Laya, despite the criteria against the Ministry of the Interior, decided to welcome in Spain the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Gali, a gesture that annoyed Rabat and for which he stopped considering her a valid interlocutor. Among the pending issues, the outgoing minister spoke of the “full normalization” of relations with Morocco, “from respect and co-responsibility.”
During the morning of this Monday the rest of the new ministers and vice presidents of the Government have promised their positions in the Audience Hall of the Palacio de la Zarzuela of the Palacio de la Zarzuela. In a ceremony held before President Pedro Sánchez and Felipe VI, one of the most profound government reshuffles in recent Spanish history was made official. Seven ministers leave and seven new faces arrive at the Executive, now made up of 14 women and nine men, raising the female presence from 54% to 63%.
Iceta: “I am very sorry to leave this ministry”
The first to take office has been Isabel Rodríguez, new Minister of Territorial Policy replacing Miquel Iceta, now Minister of Culture and Sports. “I am very sorry to leave this ministry, and I want to say it that clearly,” said Iceta. Rodríguez, who was mayor of Puertollano (Ciudad Real), has not made a single mention of Catalonia in the transfer of portfolios. The idea of the Government for the remainder of the legislature is to focus on the structural problems that affect other parts of the country and that had been relegated by the political conflict in Catalonia. “The agreement and the pact is always a working formula. It makes us feel better than permanent confrontation ”, he stated without making an express reference. The new minister has made a fiery defense of municipalism. “In this country a lot has been done for regional development. Perhaps municipal politics was lame. We have the challenge of recovering and strengthening it, there are 8,131 municipalities where impressive work is done ”.
Iceta, for its part, has accepted the portfolio of Culture and Sports from José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes with a greeting in all the official languages. “The multilingual nature of Spanish culture forces cultural federalism and I am preparing to do everything possible from the position that I am going to occupy,” said the former Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Function. His speech, full of humor and references to the ministers “who are no longer here” (“I can’t stop remembering Carmen Alborch and Jordi Solé Tura without getting excited”), has also included a recognition of the potential of Spanish in the world. “We have the capacity to become a cultural and sports superpower,” he warned, while adding a reference to the “brutal murder” of Samuel Luiz. “The more culture, the more capacity to eradicate irrational violence.” He has also issued a warning to the president of RTVE. “We are going to have to work a lot together so that television continues to be the engine of change in culture and sports.”
Bolaños: “These things are neither asked for nor rejected”
Félix Bolaños has assumed the Ministry of the Presidency from the hands of the former First Vice President, Carmen Calvo. Both, who have worked together these three years in almost all the relevant projects of the Executive, have dedicated very affectionate words. “This is the most loving transfer in Spanish history. Felix is a friend. I am grateful and calm, ”said the vice president. The new minister thanked Pedro Sánchez for his confidence and joked recalling the times that he was glad not to be a minister. And there he has launched a message that many have interpreted as an indirect mention of Iván Redondo, the outgoing Chief of Staff, who was not at the inauguration where half the Government did attend, with a dozen ministers and even former President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and that it showed the importance of Bolaños as the new key man of La Moncloa. “These things should neither be asked for nor can they be rejected,” said Bolaños in his speech. Various government sources agree that Redondo requested the position of Bolaños and Sánchez rejected it, and from that disagreement his departure from the Government arises. Redondo’s environment insists that he did not ask for anything and left of his own free will. In any case, Bolaños himself, in a subsequent informal conversation with the press, assured that this phrase was not at all a mention of Redondo, but a reflection on his feeling when he received the proposal.
During the inauguration, it transpired that Bolaños would postpone the historical memory law, which Calvo had left ready and was going to take to the Council of Ministers on Tuesday. The new minister’s mood has clarified that it is more of a technical stoppage and that it will be postponed until Bolaños takes over the ministry and can study this and other regulations.
Pilar Llop from Justice: “This is the century of women”
In her first speech as Minister of Justice, Pilar Llop focused on the subject that has occupied her the most in her legal and political career: equality and the fight against machismo. “This is the century of women,” he said before asking all professionals in the sector for “complicity” to work for that common goal. “I ask you to remove all obstacles that impede or hinder the freedom and security of women.” After receiving the portfolio from Juan Carlos Campo, Llop has also advocated for continuing the line of dialogue of his predecessor. “Spain has shown in the pandemic that dialogue is essential,” said the former president of the Senate. In a subsequent appearance before the media, Llop has warned of the need for justice to be seen as “an engine” of social development, human rights and progress. The new minister has also referred, to questions from journalists, about the pending renewal of the CGPJ: “It is a situation that I hope can be unblocked because it is essential that all constitutional bodies be renewed as soon as possible.”
Raquel Sánchez, the character of the local world
The Minister of Transport, Raquel Sánchez, has received the portfolio of the outgoing Minister, José Luis Ábalos: “I hope to be at least half your height,” he started. “You have done an extraordinary job and from humility I accept this challenge,” Sánchez told Ábalos. “Coming from the local world prints character, requires a lot of dedication and a lot of vocation. And I have done it in a territory that has given me everything. That perspective is very important. It is the perspective that I believe that the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has wanted to incorporate into this new Council of Ministers ”, he stated.
Pilar Alegría asks for “consensus” in Education
Pilar Alegría, the new Minister of Education and Vocational Training, has made dialogue and the “search for consensus” a top priority. His declaration of intent comes after a year of hard confrontations between the parties of the right and the outgoing minister, Isabel Celaá, over some of the points of the new education law (Lomloe), which puts an end to the choice of students by the concerted school. In the act of taking office, Alegría said: “Those who know me know that I have always valued the strength of dialogue, of consensus when implementing public policies,” he said after remarking that he will work hand in hand with the autonomies to the landing of the new law, approved last November and pending the development of the royal decrees that will regulate it. The new minister, who delivered her speech in a crowded ministry room, started by thanking Pedro Sánchez for his confidence in appointing her, and highlighted the “political project of progress” pursued by “this solid government.” Celaá has told him that he entered with emotion and left in the same way, and stressed that they have been “three very tough years” in which his team has “diagnosed the ills of the educational system” and “advanced in its reform.” “It remains to follow him, a hard work, dear Pilar,” he said, addressing Alegría.
Diana Morant, a commitment to science and innovation
The new head of Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, has taken office remembering her past and thanking Sánchez for her work to contribute to the visibility of women: “The Telecos student that I once was, very alone in a classroom eminently as boys, I would also have appreciated it ”. “I am aware that I came to this portfolio at a key moment,” he added, “when a global pandemic highlights science and innovation, leaving two certainties clear: one, science is the answer. And two […] innovation is the look. Innovation is the urgent approach to tackle the ecological and digital transition ”. The minister added that “the earthquake of the pandemic has raised new questions that require innovative, creative, sustainable and collaborative solutions.” Morant has ended up addressing young people and women, “invisible in science for centuries.”
With information from Miguel González, Carlos E. Cué, José Marcos, Reyes Rincón, Ana Torres, Nuño Domínguez and Iker Seisdedos.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.