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Spain elects first parliamentarian with Down syndrome

Mar Galcerán is an advocate for those with intellectual disabilities. Her ascension is a huge moment for those with the genetic condition.
Spain elects first parliamentarian with Down syndrome
Posted at 5:06 PM, Jan 12, 2024

Spain is marking a historic moment for the country as Down syndrome advocate Mar Galcerán has now ascended to the post of parliamentarian. She is the first person with Down syndrome to become a member of parliament in the country's history. 

Galcerán's success in politics has surely become a pivotal milestone in the country, across Europe, and indeed globally for people with the genetic condition, and an opportunity to prove their abilities to govern and find success in politics. 

Galcerán is thought to be the first person with Down syndrome to ascend to the national or regional parliamentarian level in Europe, according to multiple reports. The Christian Science Monitor did report in 2021, however, that Éléonore Laloux — a city council member in the town of Arras in the north of the country — became the first person diagnosed with Down syndrome to be elected to public office in France. 

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Galcerán told the Guardian that her success is "unprecedented." She said, "Society is starting to see that people with Down syndrome have a lot to contribute."

Galcerán also revealed that she still believes it will be a "very long road."

The 45-year-old Spanish politician has been involved with the conservative People's Party since she joined at 18, working her way up. 

Across the globe, candidates with the genetic condition have run for office before. Galcerán's success came after Spain saw Ángela Bachiller, another woman with Down syndrome, become Spain's first city councilor with the genetic condition in 2013 in Valladolid. Bachiller took over the post when a predecessor resigned over corruption allegations. 

In 2019 in Peru, 27-year-old Bryan Russell, a man with Down syndrome, ran for parliament, campaigning as a candidate who is "clean, honest, transparent."

Russell said in his campaign he wants to "break the paradigm" and prove that those with Down syndrome can be independent, signaling it's an idea he believes is not common in Peruvian society. 

The CDC defines Down syndrome as a condition in which a child is born with an extra chromosome. A person with Down syndrome has an extra copy of chromosome 21, leading to what is known as "trisomy." Down syndrome is also known as "Trisomy 21." There are various physical and mental features that come with having Down syndrome.

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