Spain's King Felipe, centre, poses with the members of the new Socialist government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, centre left, after taking their positions during a swearing ceremony at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, June 7, 2018. The government cabinet with most female ministers in Spanish and European history was sworn in Thursday, putting the cap on one of the fastest power transitions in the country's four decades of democratic rule. (J.J. Guillen/Pool Photo via AP)
Spain's King Felipe, centre, with members of the new Socialist government, The cabinet will have a majority of women for the first time © AP

The cabinet of Spain’s new Socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez was sworn into office on Thursday, with a majority of posts going to women for the first time in the country’s modern history.

Spanish media suggested the country had set a record in Europe for female participation in a government, surpassing countries such as Norway and Sweden that have established reputations for seeking gender parity.

Mr Sánchez named a cabinet with 11 women and six other men, a record since Spain returned to democracy in the 1970s. In the mid-2000s, the last Socialist prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero had a cabinet that was 50 per cent women.

Nadia Calvino, director-general for the budget at the European Commission since 2014, was appointed to one of the most high-profile cabinet jobs as economy minister. Other women appointees to major cabinet positions include Dolores Delgado as justice minister, Margarita Robles as defence minister and Carmen Calvo as deputy prime minister.

Barcelona-born Meritxell Batet was named territorial minister. She will play a key role in handling the Catalan crisis, which bubbled over last year when the region declared independence.

Mr Sánchez said that the new cabinet was “pro-gender equality, cross-generational, open to the world but anchored in the European Union”. An astronaut, Pedro Duque, was named science minister and a climate change treaty negotiator, Teresa Ribera, is to be environment minister.

The appointments came after Mr Sánchez ousted the previous centre-right government of Mariano Rajoy in a confidence vote last week following a corruption scandal. Mr Rajoy’s last government had five women.

Sweden’s has 10 men and 12 women, as well as a male prime minister. Viktor Orban’s new government in Hungary has one woman — up from none in Mr Orban’s previous government.

Additional reporting by Richard Milne and Neil Buckley

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