For the first time a woman has been given the role of Defence Minister, not only that, a woman who is 7 months pregnant. Although this has raised eyebrows in some quarters Carme Chacón has received the full backing of many of her colleagues in Zapatero’s new government including that of her predecessor José Antonio Alonso.
Chacón has described her position with Zapatero’s government as ‘proof of integration and identification between the armed forces and society’. Today the troops lined up for her inspection, an act seen by many as a milestone in Spanish history and many of her cabinet colleagues such as Rubalcaba, Moratinos, Blanco, Alonso and De la Vega were present to witness the first female in charge of Spain’s armed forces carry out her first official duty.
Chacón started her speech by paying homage to the Spanish military who ‘defend peace and to those who have given up their lives for a greater cause’.
She said that she felt ‘proud and moved by the love for Spain that she had always had since being a child’. She also added that she would continue the magnificent work done by Alonso and that ‘work, discretion and efficiency’ would form the foundations of her ministry.
Chacón also spoke of her objectives as Defence Minister which were firstly to reinforce the presence of women in the armed forces, perfect procedures and improve motivation with the development of the law on a professional armed forces.
The modernization of the armed forces and its adaptation to new times also appeared to be one of Chacón’s main concerns and during her first speech she highlighted the profound and positive change that Spain’s military had experienced over recent times. She said that ‘the army had never been as prepared to guarantee the sovereignty and independence of Spain’.
Chacón’s appointment has been the most surprising out of the whole of Zapatero’s cabinet. However, the decision to appoint a woman as Defence Minister was described by Alonso as ‘absolutely normal’. He also reminded critics of this appointment that there were also women in charge of the armed forces in countries such as Norway and the Czech Republic. Alonso described Chacón as an ‘intelligent person with good sense and political experience’ which would make her an ‘excellent minister’.