Europe

Spain breastfeeding MP Bescansa causes stir in parliament

  • 13 January 2016
  • From the section Europe
Carolina Bescansa with her baby in Spain's parliament Image copyright EPA
Image caption Carolina Bescansa reportedly promised to breastfeed in parliament during her election campaign

A Spanish MP has provoked criticism by taking her baby into parliament and breastfeeding him during its first session since an inconclusive general election last month.

All eyes were on Carolina Bescansa, who was standing as candidate for speaker.

Pablo Iglesias, leader of the anti-austerity Podemos party, was among those pictured cuddling the little boy.

Political leaders are still wrangling over the formation of a government following the 20 December election.

The conservative People's Party (PP) won the most seats in parliament but fell short of a majority.

'Lamentable'

Ms Bescansa, an MP with Podemos (We Can) which came third in the election, had promised to breastfeed in parliament during her campaign, according to reports.

Speaking on Wednesday, she defended the right of every parent to raise their child in whatever way "they are able to or wish to", after some politicians suggested what she had done was unnecessary, Spanish news agency Efe reported.

She said she had been "privileged" not to have been separated from her baby, Diego, since he was born.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some critics accused Carolina Bescansa of attention-seeking
Image copyright EPA
Image caption But her son was an instant hit with Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, who cuddled Diego in parliament
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Ms Bescansa stood as a candidate for parliamentary speaker but was defeated

But acting Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, of the PP, criticised the move as "lamentable", according to El Mundo.

Socialist MP Carme Chacon said it was "frankly unnecessary".

Ms Bescansa reportedly asked photographers not to broadcast her baby's face.

But some critics accused her of attention-seeking and pointed to the existence of a nursery in the parliament building that was introduced in 2006 to help MPs manage childcare.

She was unsuccessful in her bid to become parliamentary speaker. Socialist MP Patxi Lopez won the vote to become the first ever speaker from a party that did not win most seats in an election.

Breastfeeding MEP

Ms Bescansa has previously taken her son into parliament for ceremonial events including her swearing-in as an MP.

Iolanda Pineda, of the Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC), also took her baby into Spain's upper house of parliament in 2012.

Italian politician Licia Ronziulli was first pictured with her baby in the European parliament in September 2010 when the child was six weeks old.

Since then, photos of the MEP with her daughter have documented the little girl growing up.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Licia Ronzulli sits with her baby daughter as she votes in the European Parliament in 2010
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Italian MEP has taken her daughter to the chamber many times since

Last year a group of MPs in the UK called for a ban on new mothers breastfeeding their babies in the House of Commons chamber to be overturned.

Spanish MPs were gathered for the first session of parliament on Wednesday but deadlock remains over the formation of a government.

Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party is pushing for a coalition with the Socialists (PSOE) and the centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party, which came fourth in the election.

But the Socialists are seeking a deal with Citizens and Podemos. So far, Podemos has refused to drop a demand for a referendum on independence in Catalonia, which the two other parties reject.

If the main parties fail to reach an agreement, King Felipe VI will ask a party leader to form a government and MPs will vote on his nomination.

New elections might have to be held.

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