January 9, 2020 / 10:03 AM / 20 days ago

Factbox: Far-left ministers to enter Spain's new coalition government

MADRID (Reuters) - The Unidas Podemos alliance of hard-left parties will take on a deputy premiership and four ministries in Spain’s first coalition government in decades, led by the Socialists of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the government said on Thursday in a statement.

FILE PHOTO: Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Unidas Podemos (Together We Can) leader Pablo Iglesias shake hands as they present their coalition agreement at Spain's Parliament in Madrid, Spain, December 30, 2019. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Sanchez is expected next week to announce the full cabinet line-up of around 20 posts, up from 17 previously.

Following are profiles of the ministers from Unidas Podemos (Together We Can), including Pablo Iglesias who becomes one of four deputy prime ministers. The previous government had just one deputy premier.

PABLO IGLESIAS - deputy prime minister in charge of social rights

Political scientist and lecturer Iglesias, 40, founded Podemos in 2014 with colleagues from the Complutense University, building up on the anti-austerity protest movement in Spain.

Podemos quickly emerged as one of the main political forces that effectively overturned Spain’s decades-old two-party system, but its support has ebbed after internal disputes divided its leadership. Several left-wing parties joined Podemos to run on a single Unidas Podemos ticket last year.

After failing to agree with Sanchez on forming a coalition government last year amid mutual accusations of betraying each other’s trust, Iglesias and Sanchez smoothed out their differences after a repeat parliamentary election in November.

IRENE MONTERO - minister for equality

Lawmaker since 2016, Unidas Podemos’ spokesperson Montero, 31, is a trained psychologist and a prominent feminist, who has actively advocated women’s rights in parliament.

Montero has three children with her partner, Podemos leader Iglesias.

ALBERTO GARZON - consumer affairs minister

Economist and politician Garzon, 34, has been a lawmaker for United Left since 2011. His party joined forces with Podemos ahead of last April’s election.

Garzon is a card-carrying member of the Spanish Communist Party - one of his books published in 2017 is titled “Why I am a Communist” - and his appointment marks the first time in eight decades that a Communist has become a cabinet member.

The newly created ministry will deal with consumer rights and one of its main tasks will be to regulate gambling.

YOLANDA DIAZ - labour minister

The 48-year-old trained lawyer will take over a diminished Labour Ministry that should no longer be in charge of social security and migration issues.

MANUEL CASTELLS - minister of higher education

Sociologist and economist Manuel Castells, 77, is an independent whose name was proposed by the mayor of Barcelona and Podemos ally in Catalonia Ada Colau to lead the new Ministry of Higher Education.

The prominent scholar, who taught for 24 years at the University of California, was one of the signatories of a manifesto in favour of a referendum on Catalonia’s right to self-determination.

Reporting by Elena Rodriguez, Paola Luelmo and Belen Carreno; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Alison Williams

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