The president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, reorganized his cabinet in a year in which key electoral events will take place, after the departure of two ministers who will compete in the municipal elections in May.
The socialist leader announced, in a televised intervention from the government palace, the appointment of Héctor Gómez Hernández as the new Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and of José Manuel Miñones Conde as the new head of Health.
Gómez replaces Reyes Maroto and Miñones replaces Carolina Darias, who will compete in May for the mayoralties of Madrid and Las Palmas (Canary Islands), respectively.
“With these appointments, the government will face the final stretch of the legislature, a period in which we will continue to deepen the great objectives of the legislature,” said Pedro Sánchez.
This ministerial replacement occurs two months after the municipal and regional elections on May 28 and nine months after the legislative ones scheduled for the end of the year.
Coming to power in June 2018 thanks to a motion of no confidence in Congress that removed his predecessor, the conservative Mariano Rajoy, from power, Sánchez has governed since January 2020 at the head of a coalition of the socialists with the radical left of Podemos.
According to various polls, the conservatives of the Popular Party (PP) could win the end-of-year legislatures, but they would need the extreme right to obtain a majority that would allow them to govern.
Asking the Spaniards to “renew their confidence with their vote” in the left, Sánchez estimated that the country needs “a decade of progressive governments to reverse the social, economic and environmental damage left by the previous decade”, in which the PP governed between 2011 and 2018.
“We have a long road ahead of social improvements, economic changes, environmental challenges and feminist advances,” Sánchez added.
But the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, told reporters that the government is “very worn out” and the country is “headed for a political change (…) in the general elections” at the end of the year.
The new head of Industry appointed by Sánchez, 44, was already part of Reyes Maroto’s team in the ministry. Until last July, he was president of the socialist group in the Congress of Deputies.
On his side, Miñones, a 50-year-old pharmacy doctor who will take over the Ministry of Health, was the government delegate for the Galicia region (northwest).
Carolina Darias was appointed Minister of Health in January 2021, when the vaccination campaign began in the midst of the covid-19 epidemic, replacing Salvador Illa, who competed in the regional elections of Catalonia.
Reyes Maroto remained in charge of the Industry portfolio since Pedro Sánchez came to power in June 2018.
With these changes, the Spanish government, which claims to be feminist, continues to have a female majority, with twelve women and eleven men, including the president of the government.