Mar Galcerán achieves a historic feat by becoming Spain’s inaugural representative with Down’s syndrome in parliament.

After winning a seat in Valencia’s regional assembly, Galcerán expresses her desire to be recognized as an individual rather than being defined by her disability.

For years, she fought to include people with intellectual disabilities in conversations. However, the extent of her progress became evident recently when Mar Galcerán became the first parliamentarian with Down’s syndrome in Spain.

“It’s unprecedented,” the 45-year-old stated. “Society is starting to acknowledge that individuals with Down’s syndrome have a lot to offer. But there is still a long way to go.”

Her achievement was a result of decades of hard work. At the age of 18, Galcerán joined the conservative People’s Party (PP) due to its emphasis on tradition.
Gradually, she climbed the ranks within the party. Her dedication paid off in May when she was included as the 20th candidate on the PP’s list for Valencia’s regional elections.

Soon after, news broke that Galcerán had secured a seat in the regional parliament. “Welcome Mar,” wrote Carlos Mazón, the PP leader in the region, on social media. “This is fantastic news for politics, as it breaks down barriers.”

Galcerán’s accomplishment propels her to the forefront of the few individuals with Down’s syndrome who have overcome barriers and entered the sphere of politics. In France, Éléonore Laloux made history in 2020 as the first person with this genetic disorder to be elected to a public office, becoming a city council member in the town of Arras. Similarly, Fintan Bray was hailed for his historic election to a political position in Ireland in 2022.

In Spain, Ángela Bachiller blazed the trail for Galcerán. In 2013, Bachiller became the country’s first city council member with Down’s syndrome in the city of Valladolid.
However, Galcerán may be the first person in Europe to join a regional or national parliament, according to Spain’s Down’s syndrome federation.

“We haven’t heard of anyone else,” said Agustín Matía Amor from Down España. “This is a significant step forward and a true example of inclusion.”
He also emphasized that Galcerán’s achievement reflects her decades-long efforts to improve the status of individuals with Down’s syndrome in Spain. Galcerán has served as a civil servant in Valencia for over 20 years, playing a vital role in advocating for inclusive policies. Additionally, she spent four years leading Asindown, a Valencian organization dedicated to assisting families with children who have Down’s syndrome.

“This news is not only great but also a recognition of her work and the numerous initiatives she has been involved in,” said Matía Amor. “It demonstrates what is achievable.”

Although the Spanish media praised Galcerán’s swearing-in ceremony in September, she revealed that the online reaction has been mixed. “Social media is filled with all kinds of opinions,” she said. “There are people who support me, but there are also others who doubt my capabilities. However, these are individuals who neither know me nor my background.”

As she becomes familiar with her new role, Galcerán acknowledged the tremendous responsibility it brings. “I want to learn how to excel at it, for the benefit of Valencianos, and more importantly, for those of us with diverse abilities.”

Ultimately, she hopes that her presence in the regional parliament will help dismantle the pervasive prejudices that society continues to hold, particularly towards individuals with Down’s syndrome. “I want people to see me as a person, not just as someone with a disability.”

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