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Spain Elects First Parliament Member with Down’s Syndrome

After decades of advocating for people with disabilities, Mar Galcerán has become Spain’s first parliamentarian with Down’s syndrome.

Image: Official Press/YouTube

After decades of advocating for people with disabilities, Mar Galcerán has become Spain’s first parliamentarian with Down’s syndrome.

Mar Galcerán’s political career started at 18 when she joined the Conservative People’s Party. Mar’s commitment finally paid off in May 2023. Her name was added to the list of candidates the PP was fielding in the Latin country’s regional elections.

“It’s unprecedented,” The 45-year-old told the Guardian. “Society is starting to see that people with Down’s Syndrome have a lot to contribute. But it’s a very long road.”

Agustín Matía Amor of Down España was quick to comment on her achievement. She mentioned the decades she had spent working to advance the status of people with Down’s Syndrome in Spain. Galcerán had worked as a civil servant in Valencia, most recently helping to write the inclusive policy. This adds to the four years she spent at Asindown, a Valencian organization dedicated to helping families with children that have Down’s Syndrome.

What was the Media’s reaction?

The People’s Party leader Carlos Mazón congratulated Galcerán’s win on X. “Welcome Mar. Great news for politics, overcoming barriers.” He shared this online.

It didn’t take long for fellow social media users to join him and his kind words, with one writing that Galcerán’s success was proof “that anyone can accomplish their goals.”

This shows how Spain has effectively improved the development programs for individuals with such disability. This is a huge step that shows equal opportunity provided by the system to any individual with capacity.

Galcerán has said that the reaction online had been very different and mixed.

“You can find all sorts on social media, there are people who support me. But there are also other who think I’m not capable. But these are the people who don’t know me or my background.”

Galcerán

Despite mixed reviews on her appointment, her achievement sees her joining an exclusive group of individuals with Down’s Syndrome who have overcome obstacles to make their mark in the world of politics.

While not everyone is confident in her ability, she has stated that “I want to be a role model and represent people living with a disability and ensure they can achieve what they want to achieve and take part in society as much as possible.”

Who else with Down’s Syndrome is in politics at the moment?

Mal Galcerán joins other names in politics with Down’s Syndrome, widening the representation of members of parliament with disabilities. This achievement catapults Galcerán to the top of the ranks of the minority of people with Down’s Syndrome who have entered the world of politics.

In 2020, Éléonore Laloux became the first person with the genetic disorder in France to be elected to public office as a city council member in the Northern town of Arras.

In Spain, Ángela Bachiller became Spain’s first city councilor with Down’s syndrome in the Northern city of Valladolid in 2013.

Ireland: Fintan Bray made history after he was elected to a political position in 2022.

What does Galcerán want to offer to politics?

Galcerán aims to eliminate prejudice against intellectual disabilities; “I want people to see me as a person, not just for my disability,” she told The Guardian.

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