A female-dominated cabinet is taking shape as part of Spain’s new Socialist government, including a former astronaut as science minister and a European Union bureaucrat to oversee the country’s economy.
Nadia Calvino, who has been director general for budget at the EU’s Commission since 2014, was confirmed as the minister in charge of the eurozone’s fourth largest economy, Spain’s private agency Europa Press reported.
And Pedro Duque, an engineer and the first Spaniard in space, welcomed in a series of tweets on Wednesday his appointment as minister of science, innovation and universities.
Duque is a member of the European Space Agency and has taken part in several missions, including a 10-day flight on board of a Discovery shuttle in 1998, and another 10-day visit to the International Space Station on a Russian-designed spacecraft.
Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s new prime minister, is expected to convey the appointments to King Felipe VI on Wednesday before the new ministers can take their positions on Thursday.
Sanchez on Friday won a no confidence vote in the government of Mariano Rajoy, prime minister since 2011, following a corruption scandal involving several former members of the conservative Popular Party.
The no. 2 in the new government will be Carmen Calvo, several members of the ruling party have said, confirming rumors in Spanish media. Calvo, an expert on constitutional law and minister of culture between 2004 and 2007, will be deputy prime minister and also in charge of a resurrected Ministry of Equality.
Pending the announcements of the defense and interior ministers, the count shows 10 female ministers in the cabinet, with four men, including Sanchez himself.
The Socialists’ spokesman in the country’s Senate, Ander Gil, said the cabinet configuration “complies with the word given by the prime minister, with women and men with long and prestigious careers.”
“This is a responsible government that represents very well the talent and the future of Spain,” Gil told private broadcaster La Sexta TV.
The push for Catalan independence, which haunted Rajoy during the last eight months of the outgoing government, will be one of the key challenges of the new administration.
Meritxell Batet, a Catalan lawmaker and legal expert on the country’s constitution, will be charged with dealing with Catalonia’s desire for further autonomy as the new minister of public administration. The previously announced appointment of Josep Borrell, the former European Parliament president and pro-Spanish unity Catalan politician, as foreign minister, irked some separatists.
Sanchez has promised to open talks with a new regional cabinet in the prosperous northeastern region, but has said that any solution must fit within Spain’s Constitution, which calls the nation “indivisible” and says national sovereignty resides in the Madrid-based parliament.