New Spanish administration aims for greater transparency

Madrid: Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega has become Spain's first female deputy prime minister and government spokeswoman. She replaces Eduardo Zaplana, former spokesman for the right wing PP party.

The new administration led by prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of the PSOE socialist party, has also appointed Miguel Barroso as state communications secretary, succeeding Alfredo Timermans.

The communications secretary, stationed in Madrid's government mansion La Moncloa, runs the nation's communications apparatus which employs about 200 people. Barroso will oversee Javier Valenzuela, Julian Lacalle and Angelica Rubio, newly appointed directors of the department's three main units: international, national and a new co-ordination arm. Valenzuela and Lacalle replace Jesus Andreu and Alfonso Nasarre respectively.

De la Vega's role as so far been limited to convey the results of weekly parliament meetings and other official news, but may broaden in future, according to a Moncloa spokesman.

The bulk of government communications will fall to Barroso, who comes to the post at a time of rising political tension following the recent terrorist blasts in Madrid, and a cooling of Spanish-US relations following the country's exit from Iraq.

In a recent meeting with Spanish communications federation Dircom, Barroso said that Spain has entered a new era in which government transparency has become increasingly important. Citizens want 'to be told the truth, and on time,' he said, alluding to the prior administration's alleged information mismanagement following March 11

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