1. Who have you worked with that has most inspired your career, and how?
My PhD thesis supervisor, Olwen Hufton, taught me that rigour, intellectual honesty and a critical spirit had to guide me in my academic development. Such teachings guide me in my political life, which I try to carry out with honesty, rigour and the humility to recognise that all advances in politics, as in science, are collective. In science, we stand on the shoulders of giants, and in politics we do our duty to and for the citizens.
2. How would you describe your political or leadership style in three words?
Lively, rigorous and horizontal
3. What one item would you save from your home if it was on fire?
I would save my personal diaries. I have been writing them since I was 11 years old, except for the last 11 years due to the birth and raising of my daughter, which left me little time for myself. However, I have not read them since, so perhaps once I re-read them, I would burn them myself.
4. What was the most inspirational and influential book you have read and why?
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf inspired me when I first read it at age 16 and continues to inspire me today. It is about how difficult it was for women to create without a room of their own. It is a miracle that women were able to create throughout history without space, education or full citizenship. And it is still hard today because we women have less time for ourselves [than men].
Although my favourite novel is Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and the book which I would like to have written myself, although I cannot explain exactly why, is The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares.
5. If you could learn a language overnight, what would it be and why?
I think I would learn Arabic. My homeland, Andalusia, was Al-Andalus [a Muslim kingdom] for almost eight centuries, and our culture cannot be fully explained without that presence and artistic heritage.
However, Japanese culture and literature also fascinate me, so I do not know whether I might opt for Japanese at the last minute.