Europe

Spain's first female defense minister Carme Chacon dies

  • FILE - In this April 14, 2008 file photo, Spain's Defense Minister Carme Chacon reviews troops in Madrid. Chacon, Spain's first female defense minister and a prominent socialist party leader, has died. She was 46. Chacon helped modernize Spain's armed forces when she took the helm of the Ministry of Defense in 2008, in the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Photos of Chacon reviewing the troops while heavily pregnant became a symbol of a new era in Spanish politics. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

    FILE - In this April 14, 2008 file photo, Spain's Defense Minister Carme Chacon reviews troops in Madrid. Chacon, Spain's first female defense minister and a prominent socialist party leader, has died. She was 46. Chacon helped modernize Spain's armed forces when she took the helm of the Ministry of Defense in 2008, in the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Photos of Chacon reviewing the troops while heavily pregnant became a symbol of a new era in Spanish politics. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this April 8, 2009 file photo, Spain's Defense Minister Carme Chacon arrives for a Cabinet meeting at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid. Chacon, Spain's first female defense minister and a prominent socialist party leader, died on Sunday, April 9, 2017, from a heart condition she had had since birth, the party Socialist Party, or PSOE, said. She was 46. Chacon helped modernize Spain's armed forces when she took the helm of the Ministry of Defense in 2008, in the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. (AP Photo/Paul White, File)

    FILE - In this April 8, 2009 file photo, Spain's Defense Minister Carme Chacon arrives for a Cabinet meeting at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid. Chacon, Spain's first female defense minister and a prominent socialist party leader, died on Sunday, April 9, 2017, from a heart condition she had had since birth, the party Socialist Party, or PSOE, said. She was 46. Chacon helped modernize Spain's armed forces when she took the helm of the Ministry of Defense in 2008, in the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. (AP Photo/Paul White, File)  (The Associated Press)

Carme Chacon, Spain's first female defense minister and a prominent socialist party leader, has died. She was 46.

Her party said in a statement that Chacon died on Sunday from a heart condition she had had since birth.

Chacon helped modernize Spain's armed forces when she took the helm of the Ministry of Defense in 2008, in the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Photos of Chacon reviewing the troops while heavily pregnant became a symbol of a new era in Spanish politics.

Spain's socialist party, or PSOE, said in a statement that Chacon had always been "at the vanguard" of the party.

She had previously been minister of housing and national lawmaker. When Zapatero stepped down in 2012, she ran for PSOE's top leadership, although she eventually lost the vote.