The 24 Catalan ministers from Suárez to Sánchez

  • All the governments of democracy have had a Catalan member

  • 80 Catalans have held one or more ministerial portfolios since 1821

The latest change in the Government of Pedro Sánchez, the departure of Manuel Castells as Minister of Universities for health reasons, has not altered the representation of Catalonia in the central Executive, where it maintains three members. The tradition continues: in 44 years of democracy, all the central executives have always had a Catalan minister. Joan Subirats joins the list of Catalan ministers, which are already 24 since the first government of Adolfo Suárez, in 1977. If we go back further, passing through the two republics and even through the Franco regime, 80 Catalans have held one or more portfolios since 1821, when Ramon Feliu He was Minister of Overseas.

From the first half of the 20th century the conservative are especially known Francesc Cambó and the republicans Jaume Carner Y Lluís Companys, the latter two in the Executive of Manuel Azaña. The first was Minister of Development in 1918 and of Finance between 1921 and 1922. The second held the Finance portfolio from December 1931 to June 1933, while the third, before being President of the Generalitat and after being President of the Parliament , was the head of the Ministry of the Navy between June and September 1933.


Laureano López Rodó in Foreign Affairs, Eduardo Aunós in Justice and Joaquín Planell in Industry were three of the Catalan ministers during the Franco regime, and Landelino Lavilla took over after the death of the dictator as head of Justice in the Executive of Adolfo Suárez, which had two other Catalan members (Joan Rovira Y Eduard Punset). Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo added to this list Federico Mayor Zaragoza.


With democracy fully implemented, all the presidents maintained the ‘Catalan quota’, which had its greatest scope when Felipe González appointed Narcís Serra Vice President, he charged that he served from 1991 to 1995. During the 13 years of the ‘era González’ there were five Catalan ministers, all men. Three of them came to coincide in the same Executive (Serra with Ernest Lluch Y Joan Majó and Serra with Jordi Solé Tura Y Josep Borrell).


José María Aznar appointed three Catalan ministers in eight years, two coinciding at the same time (Josep Piqué with Anna Birulés). The latter was the first Catalan woman to lead a ministry, which was followed Julia Garcia Valdecasas in the last months of the absolute majority of the PP.


In his almost eight years in office, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero appointed four Catalan ministers, including Carme chacon, the first woman to head the Ministry of Defense. With her they agreed in the Executive first Joan Clos and then Celestino Corbacho.


Already in his first stage as president, Mariano Rajoy handed over the Interior portfolio to Jorge Fernandez Diaz, who, despite his origin or perhaps because of it, ended up becoming the member of the Executive who has had the most clashes with the Generalitat. In his first four years plus one in office, only José Manuel García-Margallo matched him in attacks on the independence movement, but the public emergence of his conversations with the former director of the Anti-fraud Office of Catalonia Daniel de Alfonso ended up placing the head of the popular list by Barcelona as the most hated by sovereignists and part of those who are not. Reproved by Congress, Rajoy dismissed Fernández Díaz for his second term and the only Catalan quota in his last Cabinet was Dolors Montserrat.


After dethroning Rajoy via motion of censure, Pedro Sánchez placed in his first government Meritxell Batet and played back Josep Borrell. The April 2019 elections had to be repeated in November due to the political blockade. By then, both were already outside the Executive to occupy their current responsibilities. The former had become President of Congress and the latter was promoted to High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

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With the PSOE-United We Can coalition, the ‘Catalan quota’ fell on the socialist Salvador Illa and the powerhouse Manuel Castells. Illa’s departure to attend the Catalan elections in 2021 led to the entry of Miquel Iceta, who was joined last July Rachel Sanchez. Castells’ resignation for health reasons has given way to Joan Subirats, the seventh Catalan minister of Sánchez. The socialist leader is already the president who has placed the most Catalan ministers (seven) and in less time (three and a half years).

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