Mar Galcerán, an advocate for inclusivity, made history as Spain’s first legislator with Down syndrome. The 45-year-old voted to Valencia’s regional assembly, reflects on her path, and emphasizes the importance of being recognized for more than just her impairment.
Galcerán’s political career began at the age of 18 when she joined the conservative People’s Party (PP), enticed by its traditionalist values. Years of dedication paid off in May, when she secured the 20th slot on the PP’s candidate list for Valencia’s regional elections, resulting in her historic feat.
Carlos Mazón, the regional PP leader, celebrated her victory on social media, calling it “great news for politics, overcoming barriers.” Galcerán’s victory places him among the few people with Down syndrome to have entered politics, emulating the historic triumphs of Éléonore Laloux in France and Fintan Bray of Ireland.
Ángela Bachiller: a legacy of inclusion
In 2013, Ángela Bachiller became Spain’s first city councilor with Down syndrome in Valladolid. Galcerán now follows in her footsteps. According to Agustín Matía Amor of Down España, Galcerán’s achievement is significant as she may be the first in Europe to join a regional or national parliament.
Matía Amor stresses Galcerán’s journey as a reflection of decades of dedicated work to enhance the status of those with Down syndrome. Galcerán’s achievement, which includes over 20 years as a civil servant in Valencia and leadership at Asindown, an organization that supports families with Down syndrome children, exemplifies true inclusion and societal growth.
Mixed reactions and social media scrutiny
While the Spanish media praised Galcerán’s swearing-in last September, her online reception was mixed. She acknowledges receiving support and doubt on social media, saying, “There are individuals who support me. However, others believe I am incapable. However, they are folks who are unfamiliar with me or my background.
Navigating this new duty, Galcerán professes a desire to learn and perform well to benefit Valencians and people with diverse capacities. She understands the importance of her work and strives to eliminate prevailing biases toward people with Down syndrome. “I want people to see me as a person, not just for my disability,” she asserted.
Inspire change, challenge prejudice
Galcerán sees her role in the regional parliament as a catalyst for change. Through her commitment to inclusive policies and years of service, she hopes to create a shift in social views. Her journey acts as a beacon, demonstrating the potential for people with Down syndrome to make important contributions to the political environment.
In her own words, she expresses her goals: “I want to learn how to do it well, for Valencianos, and more importantly, for those of us who have different abilities.” Galcerán’s remarkable feat is more than a personal triumph; it represents a step toward a more open and understanding society.