By: April Howard
Jesús García Galván resigned from his position as councilman for Valladolid, Spain, in 2013 due to accusations of bribery, embezzlement and prevarication. The next person on the list for the Popular Party from the 2011 municipal elections was Angela Bachiller, a thirty- year- old woman with Down Syndrome.
Friendly, positive, tenacious and stubborn. These words are the ones that Angela Bachiller used to describe herself during an interview for the Spanish newspaper Publico. Indeed, Bachiller is a remarkable young woman. Her election to the position of Valladolid’s city councillor in July 2013 made her the first person with Down syndrome to hold such a position.
Bachiller had worked for three years as an administrative assistant for the Social Welfare and Family department before she was elected. The political climate in Spain in 2013 was a hostile one, rampant corruption a series of scandals, of which Mr Galván’s resignation was indicative, and economic recession had disillusioned the majority of the public in. Trust and faith in Spanish politicians had been lost generally. Yet, Angela Bachiller succeeded in winning public approval and confidence, and her aspirations to increase visibility and opportunities for people with special needs and disabilities appealed to a public who were seeking genuine and honourable officials.
Bachiller’s parents were supportive and proactive throughout her childhood. They were determined to raise Angela to be no different than any other child, encouraging her to play out, participate in sports, go out to the cinema and to restaurants. Her parents prioritised education, sending Angela to school at the age of 1, and continually emphasising the chief role education would play in her future. The tenets of discipline and knowledge are ones her mother, Isabel Guerra, reveres as the ones that lead to success. Bachiller hence levied her power to ensure sufficient economic effort was put into guaranteeing a good education for disabled people across Spain as part of the National Plan. She is a much- needed voice in Spanish politics, vocally promoting equality of opportunities and the overcoming of ableism, a form of discrimination which is still very prominent worldwide.
Bachiller likes to defy the sort of stereotyping that people usually assign to those with Down syndrome, refusing to be penned in to a narrow category of success which focuses on an ability to overcome adversity rather than excel. She is a capable and resolute politician, impressing both her own party and the opposition Socialist party. She has a host of hobbies, including Latin dance and playing the piano. She is an avid reader, and a lover of books with a romantic theme. She also loves to travel, beginning with a love of school trips in her youth, and has travelled around most of Europe.
Bachiller is a reminder to us all, this World Down Syndrome Day, that there are no limits to the abilities of individuals with Down syndrome. While there are a wealth of actors with the condition, Angela Bachiller is a rather unique success story in the political sphere. She refuses to be treated differently or shift her opinions, making her an impressive and formidable political figure and a beacon of light for people with Down syndrome and other genetic conditions across the globe.
Image: Rich Johnson via Creative Commons