Women stand out in the new government not only in terms of number — heading 11 of the 17 ministries — but also in terms of the importance of their portfolios.
During his two terms as prime minister, Mr. Rajoy formed cabinets in which at most 36 percent of the ministers were women. Mr. Sánchez is leading a cabinet that even surpasses the gender parity achieved by the last Socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, in 2004.
Carmen Calvo is the deputy prime minister, and women will also run the two main economics ministries as well as one that combines industry, trade and tourism. The new justice minister is Dolores Delgado, who has been one of the country’s leading prosecutors in the fight against Islamist terrorism. Magdalena Valerio is the labor minister and Carmen Montón is the health minister.
In what he called “a highly qualified” administration, Mr. Sánchez also included two former judges: Fernando Grande-Marlaska will run the Interior Ministry, and Margarita Robles will be in charge of the Defense Ministry. A former astronaut, Pedro Duque, is the science minister.
A Basque politician, Isabel Celaá, takes charge of education. Another Catalan politician, Meritxell Batet, is in charge of regional affairs, which could give her a pivotal role in any negotiation over Catalonia’s future.
While Mr. Sánchez takes charge of a fragile government, his right-wing opponents also have to rebuild after last week’s abrupt change in government.
Mr. Rajoy’s ouster, which was followed this week by his decision to also step down as his party’s leader, could open up a fierce power struggle within his Popular Party. Mr. Rajoy never designated an heir.
The front-runner to replace him is Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who has been in charge since 2009 of the regional government of Galicia, which is also Mr. Rajoy’s region.