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Spain’s Down Syndrome councillor makes history

OHMYGOSSIP — Spain’s first-ever town councillor with Down Syndrome is set to start work in the Spanish city of Valladolid on Monday, but many people with her condition in Spain find themselves unable to vote because of a legal loophole. 30-year old Ángela Covadonga Bachiller will take up the new post after another councilman in the city in central Spain left his post, The Local mediates.

Bachiller’s decision to get involved in politics began with her participation in Valladolid’s May 2011 electoral campaign.

Later, city mayor Francisco Javier León de la Riva described her as “an example of strength and of someone overcoming obstacles”. Spain’s Down España association — which represents some 80 Down Syndrome groups around the country — welcomed the news of Bachiller’s new position, describing it as “positive” but “exceptional”.

Association president Agustín Matía also warned there was a long way to go.

 She highlighted the “paradoxical” nature of a situation where a woman with Down’s Syndrome could become a town councillor while other “young people of the same age and in the same conditions aren’t entitled to vote”.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, people with disabilities are guaranteed participation in political and public life, including the right to vote. However, while intellectually disabled people in Spain are theoretically entitled to participate during elections, many find themselves unable to do after they are declared ‘incapacitated’ by a judge.





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