• Politics. The accounts and the "affective separation" of María Jesús Montero, the Minister of Finance

"Nadia is lucky for Spain". With this phrase a senior EU official summarized the star signing of Pedro Sánchez. The brilliant and highly respected director of community budgets left Brussels to join the Socialist Government as Minister of the Economy. He left behind his career in Europe for politics, a risky change for a woman with a highly technical profile but not used to the spotlight. Nadia Calviño (52) was willing to embody economic orthodoxy and, after being promoted to vice president, serve as a retaining wall for Podemos ... until the pandemic has taken everything ahead.

The Vice President for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation is experiencing one of the hardest and most difficult moments of her career , which until now had only been very successful. With the economy in free fall, it faces the great challenge of cushioning the recession and curbing Pablo Iglesias' populist policies. " Calviño is vital in the government right now, he has a fundamental role in preventing inapplicable policies from being approved in an economy in recession and in sending signals of confidence that attract investors," says an economic policy expert who doubts, however, that the vice president has the necessary political weight to prevail in a government in which the theories of Unidas Podemos gain ground.

Another of the experts consulted, however, believes that Calviño is more necessary than ever: "She faces a terrible scenario ... no one would want to be in her situation, but I am thankful that she is in the government, I wish there were more ministers like her. "

She prefers not to feed rumors about disputes. "I am focused 24 hours a day on trying to do my job and respond as effectively as possible and with the utmost responsibility to this situation. And the rest is noise," he said in a recent interview with EL MUNDO. A large part of those 24 hours of work is spent in his office in Paseo de la Castellana, where he goes almost every day since the state of alarm was declared, despite the fact that the Ministry works with a very small staff. She has an agenda full of virtual meetings with all kinds of national and international interlocutors, sources from her environment tell, highlighting the "extraordinary work capacity" of the economic vice president.

The economic vice president with Pablo Iglesias in a session of control to the Government.

"She is a very demanding person with herself and with the people on her team, but she is also very close, a person who knows how to value the people who work with her and the effort they make. She usually sends emails and messages of appreciation thanking or valuing the work, and that gives a lot of confidence ", indicate the same sources. Calviño works side by side with her Praetorian guard, made up of five women and two men of high technical profile, like her (Carmen Balsa, her chief of staff, Isabel Riaño, Ana de la Cueva, Amparo López, Carme Artigas, Roberto Sánchez and Carlos San Basilio). She never loses her smile and is very kind in her ways, but she is a tough negotiator , they emphasize.

Music and theater

She no longer has free time, but before the coronavirus crisis erupted, she used to spend her weekends hiking , one of her favorite hobbies, along with art and music. Calviño is a music lover -he studied music theory and plays the piano very well, like his mother- and was a regular at the concerts of the National Auditorium, the opera and the flamenco shows at the Teatro Real . His love of theater and exhibitions is also reflected on his Twitter account.

"The little free time she has now is dedicated to her family, her husband and her four children," they say. She is the mother of two girls and two boys , the result of her marriage to the economist Ignacio Manrique de Lara. With them, she moved to Brussels, where she spent twelve years in high positions in the European Commission, the last as Director of Budgets of the European Commission (she managed more than a billion euros), and with them she returned to Madrid. In the Belgian capital they fired her to applause and tears. "In the institutions they adore her, in the Commission, in the Council, in the Eurogroup ... socialists, popular ... everyone has the utmost respect for her because, in addition to being a tireless worker, she was very constructive and She had a very good character. She was what in Brussels is called an honest broker , a mediator or facilitator of agreements, "recalls a person who treated her during her years in Brussels.

Calviño developed perfectly at the technical level but was having a hard time breaking loose on the political level. "She is shy and with the media she was very afraid that her words would be misinterpreted. She is very measuring what she says. Now she is looser but she has never had a political profile and that may be her problem," she adds.

Daughter of José María Calviño

Despite this low political profile, Calviño grew up in a left-wing family and showed an interest in politics from a young age. His father, José María Calviño (76), was the first general secretary of Acción Republicana Democrática Española (ARDE) when the party was legalized, but he became famous, above all, as director of RTVE with the first socialist government of Felipe González, between 1982 and 1986. These were not easy years, under the magnifying glass of the opposition, which accused him of manipulation and purging journalists, although it also generated misgivings among the felipistas. Follower of Alfonso Guerra, he ended up being replaced by Pilar Miró.

The brand new minister referred to him and the rest of his family at his inauguration - "Without them I would not be here" - His father was in the front row, supported by other socialists of the old guard such as Pedro Solbes, Joaquín Almunia or José Blanco , mentors of his brilliant daughter.

The vice minister and her schoolmates on a trip to Paris. Calviño is the girl dressed in blue, third from the left.

"Nadia was always on the left. At school almost everyone was. I was one of the few on the right and we used to debate a lot, but she was nothing demagogue, she defended social democratic positions, like her father," recalls David Arias, lawyer and Partner of the vice president at the Estudio de Madrid school , one of the most progressive and prestigious in the capital.

Another of his classmates also highlights that from an early age he had a political position. "That was very common in our generation. In her case it was a socialist position , of family roots. She endured very well being the daughter of a well-known father and exposed to politics, little liked by the extreme right. She did not boast but neither did she get used to it. ", remember.

The two coincide in highlighting his intelligence. "He was very capable, a very good student but not arrogant. He spoke English and French very well, he played the piano ... you could see that he could do more things than the others and that generated some envy ", points out one of them. "She was one of the best in class, she got excellent grades, but she was not the typical nerd who did not leave her notes, on the contrary, she was a very good companion. I also remember that she drew very well, she loved making fashion figurines ", she highlights Arias, who shared many years of school desk and route with the vice president.

He was also not rebellious in his teens. Not partying or lianta, but quite homemade and attached to her family. The perfect daughter. The only act of rebellion known to him was when he was 17 years old, when he accompanied his father to vote in the NATO referendum on March 12, 1986. The photographers followed Calviño, her father, taking advantage of the commotion, approached to the ballot box and, as it appeared in the electoral roll although he was not yet of legal age, he voted. It is the first time he starred in a press headline because ABC reflected the incident after Alianza Popular complained. "They denounce the vote of a minor daughter of Calviño," read the newspaper chronicle.

Calviño has continued to maintain some contact with her classmates throughout these years - "you know, the typical chat of former students and things like that" - and attended a dinner that they called after her appointment as minister . "It is the last time I saw her, she was very happy. Now I do not know how she will be ... I just hope that she will be very successful for the good of all," wishes the lawyer.

Feminist since childhood

Calviñó grew up in a progressive family and was educated at Colegio Estudio, the elitist center that follows the pedagogy of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, where many famous children have studied. She was a responsible girl and a studious and not rebellious teenager, but with firm political and social convictions. Working in very masculine environments, where she has moved freely, she has always considered herself a feminist and is an advocate of quotas. "Fortunately, I have grown up in an environment of equality, both in my school and in my family, boys and girls have been treated equally and I have not felt that kind of prejudice or discrimination that other women may feel and I think that is very important, "he told a video interview in El Periódico on the occasion of 8M. Calviño is discreet, shy and little given to fuss, but she did not hesitate to lead the latest 8M demonstration together with Begoña Gómez and other government ministers to demand equality. He exchanged the pearls for the purple scarf and, banner in hand, toured the streets of Madrid. The pandemic was waiting around the corner, although she did not catch it.

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