Women lead the way in the new Spanish government

Of Spain's 16 socialist ministers who swore their allegiance to King Juan Carlos yesterday, eight are women. It is Spain's first government with an equal number of men and women, the first in Europe after Sweden.

Of Spain's 16 socialist ministers who swore their allegiance to King Juan Carlos yesterday, eight are women. It is Spain's first government with an equal number of men and women, the first in Europe after Sweden.

The gender parity fulfills an election promise by the new Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who was sworn in on Saturday.

But the female ministers are no makeweight "flower-vase" women, as they say here. They hold high-profile, big-budget portfolios controlling priority policy areas of Mr Zapatero's government. They have spent yearsin senior public positions.

Magdelena Alvarez, at public works, is to expand the high-speed train network from Madrid to Barcelona, north to Valladolid and west to Portugal. The Galician, Elena Espinosa, is the former head of Vigo port authority, and she takes agriculture and fisheries. There, she must put right the Prestige disaster, and haggle over the CAP and EU fishing quotas.

Maria Antonia Trujillo, the former head of public works in the western Extremadura region, is the new housing ministry to tackle the nation's housing crisis. Elena Salgado, experienced in public administration, takes health, and Maria Jesus San Segundo, deputy rector of Valladolid university, has education and science. Carmen Calvo, former culture chief of Andalusia's regional government where she created Malaga's successful Picasso museum, is culture minister.

Cristina Narbona, at environment, returns to the ministry where she was number two under Felipe Gonzalez's socialist government. She must find options for the scrapped Ebro river transfer plan and reconcile demands of rainy north-eastern regions and the parched south.

Other figures likely to become household names are Miguel Angel Moratinos, at Foreign Affairs, a diplomat and former EU envoy to the Middle East, who must rebuild alliances to overcome international discrepancies over Iraq and the future of Europe. He flies to Washington after today's inaugural cabinet meeting to propose formulas for co-operation in Iraq after the troop withdrawal.

Pedro Solbes, at finance, reoccupies his old ministry, after a stint as EU economics commissioner: he is unexciting, non-confrontational, an international guarantee that Spain's finances are in safe hands. Jose Bono at the Defence Ministry is to bring home the troops. A socialist veteran who has won six elections as regional leader of Castilla-Leon with an absolute majority, he was pipped as socialist leader by Mr Zapatero in 2000.

Newcomers to the public eye are Jose Antonio Alonso, Interior Minister, a magistrate and old friend of Mr Zapatero who harangued conservatives mercilessly for supporting President George Bush and for politicising judicial bodies supposed to be independent. Mr Alonso is flanked, at Justice, by Juan Fernandez Lopez Aguilar, a hyperactive Canarian with a law doctorate from Bologna university, who wants to simplify Spain's arcane legal system.

Mr Zapatero's close allies who orchestrated his election victory, Jesus Caldera and Jordi Sevilla, take ministries of labour and social affairs, and public administration respectively. And Jose Montilla, architect of Catalonia's ruling tripartite alliance between socialists, communist-leaning greens and pro-independence nationalists, occupies the key ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade.

And at Mr Zapatero's right hand, most senior of all, the deputy prime minister who will co-ordinate government activities is the magistrate Teresa Fernandez de la Vega who has a long track record as a legal reformer and feminist.

Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Sport
Rio Ferdinand, Alan Shearer, Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker during Hansen's final broadcast
Sport
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Dynamics CRM Developer (C#, .NET, Dynamics CRM 2011/2013)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?