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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - MADRID — Women experts and radical leftists looked set to play a dominant role in Spain's new coalition government as Pedro Sanchez Friday named a senior global trade expert as his top diplomat.
Following nearly a year of political deadlock, Sanchez was confirmed as prime minister on Tuesday, freeing him up to piece together his new government, a minority coalition comprising his Socialists and the radical left-wing Podemos.
Nearly all of the ministers in the new lineup have been named, with the list to be presented to King Felipe VI on Sunday and the government to take the oath of office the following day.
And like Sanchez's first government, named in June 2018 after he toppled former conservative premier Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote, it will feature many women holding top ministerial posts.
In Friday's surprise announcement, Sanchez's office said the foreign affairs portfolio would be held by Arancha Gonzalez, head of the International Trade Centre, in a clear indication that for the new government, "economic diplomacy will be the priority".
A polyglot who also speaks English, French, German, Italian and Basque, Gonzalez spent eight years as chief-of-staff at the World Trade Organization (WTO) before moving in 2013 to the ITC, a UN and WTO agency.
Known internationally, the 50-year-old will take up her post on Monday alongside 22 other ministers, five of them from the far left, in a cabinet in which Sanchez has four deputies.
One is Podemos' pony-tailed leader Pablo Iglesias, 41, who will handle the social rights portfolio, while the other three are women ministers from the previous government.
Sanchez's current deputy, Carmen Calvo, 62, will continue in the role and handle ties with the deeply-fragmented parliament, where the government only holds a minority of 155 within the 350-seat chamber.
For the other two — Economy Minister Nadia Calviño and Environment Minister Teresa Ribera — the post is a promotion.
Ribera, 50, is a recognized climate expert who headed the Paris-based Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations.
Calviño, 51, is a former top EU official who joined Sanchez's first government in an apparent bid to reassure Brussels the Socialist administration would respect eurozone budget rules.
The new coalition has pledged to raise the minimum wage and hike taxes on high earners and large businesses, while also repealing elements of the controversial 2012 labor market reforms.
Such a proposal has raised alarm with industry figures fearing it could harm job creation.
The entry of Podemos, which emerged from the anti-austerity "Indignados" movement, into government for the first time has raised concerns among business leaders.
But the coalition has pledged to "respect the mechanisms of budget discipline", with Iglesias speaking of "a very moderate program" and saying it would focus on helping "ordinary people with modest means".
Next week, Iglesias will be joined in government by four other left-wing ministers, one of whom is Irene Montero, his partner in life, who has been named minister of equality.
Yolanda Diaz will serve as labour minister and communist MP Alberto Garzon will take the consumer affairs portfolio. Both are from the far-left Unidas Podemos coalition.
And sociologist Manuel Castells, who is close to Podemos, will head the universities ministry. — AFP
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