Former Equality Minister Irene Montero launches scathing attack on Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez as new Cabinet sworn in

THE OUTGOING equality minister, Irene Montero, launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday, the day that the new Spanish Cabinet was sworn in before King Felipe VI. 

The politician, who is a member of the leftist Podemos party, made the comments as she handed over the portfolio to the new minister, Ana Redondo of the Socialist Party. 

“Pedro Sanchez is throwing us out of this government,” she said during her handover speech. “[And he is doing so] precisely because we have done what we said we would do: put the institutions at the service of feminist advances.”

She also called on new minister Ana Redondo to have the ‘bravery to inconvenience the 40- to 50-year-old male friends of the prime minister of the government, because feminism is a very powerful movement’. 

Irene Montero Presenta Un Proyecto Pa La Igualdad Efectiva Entre Hombres Y Mujeres En El Trabajo
The Minister for Equality, Irene Montero in a file photo. (Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto)

Podemos was present in the previous administration of Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez, as part of a leftist bloc called Unidas Podemos, which served as the junior coalition partner from early 2020 until the new government was formed this week.

Ahead of the July 23 snap election, however, a new alliance was formed called Sumar, which absorbed smaller left-wing parties including Podemos. Sumar is the new coalition partner for the Socialist Party for this new term of government. 

Sanchez, who managed to win an investiture vote last week to serve another term as prime minister, announced his Cabinet on Monday, excluding any ministers from Podemos. 

This also leaves the party leader Ione Belarra without a portfolio, having served until now as the minister for social rights.

Relations between the Socialist Party and Podemos soured after the latter’s star piece of legislation, the ‘only yes means yes’ sexual consent law, had the unintended effect of seeing prison sentences reduced for convicted sex offenders. In some cases they were even freed early from jail. 

Under mounting political pressure, the Socialists opted to modify the legislation to close the loophole, despite the opposition of Podemos.

The snub by the Sanchez administration could see Podemos break away from Sumar already, with press reports suggesting that the party could run separately at the European elections in June in direct competition with the alliance. 

If there is a split, the already complicated parliamentary arithmetic for Pedro Sanchez could get even more thorny. The prime minister only managed to secure another term in office by forging agreements with a series of smaller parties, including Catalan separatists

In order to pass legislation going forward, he will need to repeat that feat, something that could become impossible if he loses the support of just four lawmakers in the Congress of Deputies.

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