Spain's first female defense minister Carme Chacon dies

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.