Astronaut appointed to Spain’s new Cabinet

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has picked an astronaut to serve in his Cabinet, as well as appointing several women to key roles.

Pedro Duque — who’s been an astronaut since 1992 and was the first Spaniard to go into space — will serve as the science, innovation and universities minister in Spain’s new government.

Duque’s first space mission was in 1998, aboard the US Space Shuttle Discovery. Five years later, he traveled on a Russian Soyuz spaceship to the International Space Station, where he stayed for 10 days.

The 55-year-old commented on his appointment on Twitter, saying he wished his mother were still alive to see it. Beneath, he posted a drawing from 1982 by late humorist Forges, in which a mother reminds a son as he leaves for work that “important jobs are the devil’s playground.”

News of Duque’s new role prompted a swift response on social media.

One Twitter user posted a clip from “The Simpsons” in which a UFO crashes into a capitol building, captioned “Pedro Duque arrives late to a session.”

Another joked that the rival Ciudadanos party — whose color is orange — was working at full pace to install Bruce Willis to counteract Duque.

Women make up six of the 10 Cabinet members so far named by Sánchez, who leads the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party. They include Dolores Delgado as justice minister, Nadia Calviño as economy minister and María Jesús Montero as budget minister. Meritxell Batet will be tasked with handling the Catalan independence issue as territory administration minister.

Five women served in the last Cabinet under the former prime minister, Mariano Rajoy.

Sánchez, a 46-year-old former economics professor, was sworn in on Saturday, a day after ousting the scandal-hit Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote.

His Socialists secured support for the no-confidence motion from a number of other parties in parliament, including the anti-austerity Podemos, Catalan pro-independence parties and the Basque Nationalist Party.

Since his own party holds only 84 seats in the 350-seat chamber, Sánchez will need to keep those parties, with their differing agendas, on his side in order to pass any legislation.

The confidence motion was filed by Sánchez after a court convicted Rajoy’s former aides of running slush funds to help finance Popular Party election campaigns. The court also questioned the credibility of Rajoy’s testimony during the proceedings.