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The Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, announced this Monday that Héctor Gómez will be the new minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism replacing Reyes Maroto, while José Manuel Miñones will replace Carolina Darias as minister of Health. Gómez has been a spokesperson for the Socialist parliamentary group and currently serves as president of the constitutional commission of the Congress of Deputies. For his part, Miñones has served as a delegate of the Spanish government in Galicia. He has a degree in pharmacy and a doctorate from the University of Compostela.

In an institutional appearance, Sánchez sought to highlight the work which Maroto and Darias had done in the executive. He emphasized that the outgoing industry minister had been in the cabinet since before the coalition government with Podemos was formed and that, therefore, with nearly five years in the post she is one of the longest-serving ministers in his government. In particular, she had the job of reactivating Spanish tourism after the coronavirus crisis. She also had words of praise for Darias, who replaced Salvador Illa at the head of the Health ministry in the middle of a pandemic. "Her name will always be linked with the success of the vaccination campaign," the Spanish PM assured. 

The laudatory remarks are scarcely surprising given that the mini reshuffle of the cabinet, confirmed by Pedro Sánchez himself a couple of weeks ago, is due to the candidacies of the outgoing ministers in the municipal elections. The objective of the change of ministers is clear and limited, relieving Reyes Maroto, to contest the mayoralty of Madrid for the Socialists, and Carolina Darias, to stand for the municipal government of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Thus, the changes do not affect Podemos. However, the approach does certify Pedro Sánchez as the Spanish prime minister who has relieved most ministers because of their candidacies in elections around the Spanish state.

In addition to Carolina Darias and Reyes Maroto, Salvador Illa and Pablo Iglesias have left the Spanish executive for running for office. Although the last-named case was not a decision taken by Sánchez, the former general secretary of Podemos resigned from his responsibilities as second-ranked deputy PM and minister of Social Rights and Agenda 2030 to run in the elections in the Community of Madrid and attempt to dethrone Isabel Díaz Ayuso - a mission in which he failed.  

José Manuel Miñones, a la dreta, acompanyat del secretari general d'UGT
José Manuel Miñones, at right, accompanied by the general secretary of UGT  / Photo: Europa Press

In the same way, Salvador Illa, who despite Sánchez's praise for Darias is the health minister whose name is really inseparable from Spain's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, left his post in January 2021 to run, a few days later, in the Catalan elections. He had more fortune than Iglesias, but with a bittersweet end: despite finishing as the largest party on 14th February, 2021, the pro-independence parties again dominated the polls and were eventually able to bring Pere Aragonès to power as president of the Generalitat.

To these four Sánchez ministers - Darias, Maroto, Iglesias and Illa - who have left their portfolios to go to regional or municipal elections, we must add the case of Josep Borrell. In May 2019, while still minister of Foreign Affairs, he stood in the European elections. Despite being an elected candidate, he resigned from his European seat arguing that Sánchez's investiture as president of the Spanish government was "uncertain". In any case, he left the Spanish executive in November of that year to become, the following month, High Representative of the European Union Abroad.

VIDEO, BELOW: Pedro Sánchez announcing the changes to get his cabinet in shape for the elections of May 28th