Rajoy chooses Catalan Dolors Montserrat as new Minister for Health and gives Vice President enhanced competences
Re-elected Spanish President, the conservative People’s Party (PP) Mariano Rajoy unveiled this Thursday the names in his new cabinet. Catalan MP Dolors Montserrat has been designated Spanish Minister for Health, Social Services and Equality. Spanish Vice President, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría will keep her role and assume the Territorial Administrations portfolio, which was previously part of the Spanish Finance Ministry. Two of the most controversial and belligerent ministers regarding Catalonia’s pro-independence aspirations, the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, José Manuel García-Margallo and the Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Diaz, will no longer be in Rajoy’s cabinet.
Barcelona (CNA).- The new Spanish cabinet has been unveiled this Thursday. A Conservative People’s Party (PP) MP in the Catalan Parliament, Dolors Montserrat, has been designated Spanish Minister for Health, Social Services and Equality. Three ministers have been left out of the cabinet led by re-elected Spanish President, PP’s Mariano Rajoy. They are the now former Spanish Ministry for Defence, Pedro Morenés and two of the most controversial and belligerent ministers regarding Catalonia’s pro-independence aspirations, the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, José Manuel García-Margallo and the Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Diaz. One of Rajoy’s strongest assets, Spanish Vice President, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría will not only keep her role but assume the Territorial Administrations portfolio, which was before part of the Spanish Finance Ministry.
Rajoy met this Thursday with the Spanish King, Philip VI and told him the names composing his new cabinet.
The new Spanish cabinet incorporates six new faces, as three ministers leave the executive body.
The only Catalan minister will be Conservative People’s Party (PP) MP in the Catalan Parliament, Dolors Montserrat, who will be at the head of the Ministry for Health, Social Services and Equality.
New faces in the Cabinet
Alfonso Dastis Quecedo will now be in charge of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, in place of José Manuel García Margallo. The current Secretary-General of the Conservative People's Party, María Dolores de Cospedal, will replace Pedro de Morenés as the Spanish Defence Minister and the Ministry for Home Affairs, previously run by Jorge Fernández Díaz, will have Juan Igancio Zoido as Minister. Iñigo de Serna will be in charge of the Ministry for Public Works, a post previously occupied by Ana Pastor, and Álvaro Nadal will assume responsibility for the now renamed Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda.
Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría will continue as the Spanish Vice President and her powers will be extended, to the detriment of Cristobal Montoro, as she will assume control over the portfolio of the new Ministry for Presidency and Territorial Administrations. However, the politician will no longer be the Government Spokeswoman, a role that will be taken over by the Spanish Minister for Education, Culture and Sports, Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, who stay with the Ministry.
Luís de Guindos remains in charge of the Spanish Ministry for Economy and Competitiveness, which will now also incorporate the Ministry for Industry, and Isabel García Tejerina continues at the head of the Spanish Ministry for Agriculture and Environment in this new PP legislature. Rafael Catalá also keeps his position, as Minister for Justice, and does Fátima Báñez, who will continue to be in charge of the Spanish Ministry of Employment and Social Security. Cristóbal Montoro will remain as the Spanish Finance Minister.
Controversial ministers Margallo and Fernández Díaz left out of the cabinet
The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, José Manuel García-Margallo, will no longer oversee this portfolio. He has been one of the most belligerent ministers regarding Catalonia’s pro-independence aspirations. In September 2015, a few days before the 27-S Catalan elections took place, Margallo insisted that Catalans would not be able to maintain their Spanish nationality or European citizenship in the case of independence. His statement arrived after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy exposed himself by failing to defend the idea that Catalans will lose Spanish nationality; the Spanish Constitution allows them to keep it as they are Spanish by origin. Disregarding the article of the Constitution which prevents this from occurring, Margallo assured that “when someone stops being part of a country, he loses all the attributes that give him membership to this country”. Catalan President Artur Mas responded to Margallo by saying that “Spain’s threats turn against them like a boomerang”.
Earlier this year, Margallo assured that Catalonia’s pro-independence process was “the most important defiance” that the Spanish Government has faced so far. He also warned that an independent Catalonia would lose “a third” of its wealth. Margallo also insisted that if Catalonia became an independent country it wouldn’t be part of the EU since it wouldn’t be recognised by any international treaty, which would lead to a situation of “isolation and poverty”.
Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Diaz, was reproved by the whole of the Spanish Parliament except from the PP in October this year and MPs called for his immediate resignation. A bill to this effect, presented by former liberal ‘Convergència’ (now renamed the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDECat)), accused Fernández Díaz of “antidemocratic actions and attitude” and pointed out his “lack of political ethics”. The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Spanish Unionist ‘Ciutadans’, alternative left ‘Podemos’, left wing pro-independence ERC and the Nationalist Basque Party (PNB) all voted in favour of the proposal, while the PP voted against. In June several recordings revealed a conversation held between Jorge Fernández Díaz and the Director of Catalonia's Anti-fraud Office Daniel de Alfonso Laso in 2014, during which the two men can be heard allegedly plotting to find different ways to accuse and discredit Catalonia’s main pro-independence parties left-wing ERC and liberal Convergència.
Fernández Díaz also linked Islamic terrorism with immigration and organisations working for Catalonia's independence. The Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, explicitly backed his colleague's initial statements.
Spanish Ministry for Defence, Pedro Morenés, has also been excluded from Rajoy’s cabinet.