The most powerful woman in Spain is also the youngest member of the new conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, only 40, the country’s new deputy prime minister has been described by local media as the “most powerful woman since democracy,” referring to the year 1975 when Fascist dictator Francisco Franco died.
Trained as a lawyer she has been granted an unusually wide range of duties, including control of Spain’s intelligence apparatus. The spy agency was transferred from the auspices of the defense ministry to Santamaria’s ministry of the presidency.
She is also the chief government spokesman, and minister of the presidency in charge of relations between the premier's office and parliament.
Since 2008, she had served as the spokeswoman for the Popular Party in the lower house of parliament.
Interestingly, she is only one of four women in the new cabinet of the Popular Party, which swept to power last month due to the Spanish electorate’s anger over the crippled economy.
I accept I have many duties. I am one of those who thinks you have to speak of duty more than powers, she told a news conference following the new administration’s first cabinet meeting.
I will do my utmost to handle everything, and if there is something I cannot do I will ask for help.
Madrid’s El Pais newspaper marveled: Saenz de Santamaria, the youngest minister in the government and the one who wields the most power, will take over a strategic organization for the state that requires delicate management.”
The mother of a baby is reportedly very close to Rajoy.
Regarding her future, she once told Spanish media: I don't want to be president of anything, not even my neighborhood community. Rather than power for power's sake, I want to change things. Idealist? I would say more a realist in my analysis but an idealist in my goals.