Spain: PM Pedro Sánchez Will Not Resign, Stays To Fight ‘Mud’ In Politics


By  Fernando Heller

(EurActiv) — Pedro Sánchez said on Monday he will stay on as Spain’s prime minister after announcing last week that he would consider his future as a Madrid judge opened an investigation against his wife, Begoña Gómez, for alleged corruption and influence peddling.

“I have decided to continue. This decision is not a semicolon; it is a full stop. I am taking the decision to continue with even greater strength, if possible, at the head of the Spanish government,” the socialist prime minister (PSOE/S&D) said.

He also called for collective reflection and a need to clean up toxicity from public discourse. The prime minister said he regretted that Spain’s right-wing forces, PP and VOX, had attacked his family but promised he would carry out his duties regardless.

Sánchez came to power in 2018 following a vote of no confidence from left-wing parties against former prime minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative People’s Party (Partido Popular/EPP), now the main opposition force.

Sánchez announced on Wednesday (24 April) he was taking a few days of “reflection” to decide on his political future following the news that his wife was under investigation.

The complaint was filed by Clean Hands, a group founded by Miguel Bernad, a lawyer and former politician with links to the Spanish far-right, who admitted on Thursday that the allegations against Gómez were based on right-wing and far-right news reports.

Among the various options on the table, aside from resignation, snap elections were not viable as a year has not passed since the last election (29 May 2023). Another option would have been calling a vote of confidence, which he would have likely won.

Moral red lines

Despite his personal sense of duty as head of government, Sánchez stressed that there are several red lines he was not willing to cross.

“No matter how high it (the position of head of government) is, there is no honour that justifies the unjust suffering of the people one loves and respects the most and to see how one tries to destroy their dignity without the slightest foundation”, Sánchez stated.

At the same time, Sánchez expressed his desire to fight “tirelessly, firmly” for the moral regeneration of Spain’s political life and for the advancement of rights and freedoms in the face of attacks from the Spanish People’s Party (PP/EPP), the main opposition force, and the far-right VOX party, the third parliamentary force.

The PP leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, accused Sánchez of taking the Spanish people for a ride by announcing that he will continue as prime minister after five days of reflection, stating: “He has preferred to run away than to resign”, EFE reported.

The president of the Madrid region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso (PP), whom many analysts consider a possible future head of the right-wing party, accused Sánchez of “seeking power without control and without counterweights”, and predicted that, after his decision to continue in the government, “an even tougher stage” begins from now on.

Nevertheless, Sánchez firmly defended his decision.

“I have acted out of a clear conviction. Either we say enough is enough, or this degradation of public life will determine our future, condemning us as a country”, Sánchez warned.

“It is a question of deciding what kind of society we want to be”, he said, while assuring that Spain needs a “collective reflection” on its future and clean politics.

“My wife and I know that this smear campaign will not stop. We have been suffering from it for ten years. It is serious, but it is not the most important thing. We can deal with it”, he said.

Key elections in Catalonia

Sánchez’s decision to stay in power comes at a crucial time with less than six weeks before the European elections, and with Catalan elections scheduled for 12 May.

The leader of the Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC) and favourite to win the regional elections, former health minister Salvador Illa, welcomed Sánchez’s decision on Monday, calling it “the best news for Catalonia”.

Despite favourable polls, Illa is not guaranteed to govern, given the rise of the separatist forces, Together for Catalonia (JxCat), of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, and his left-wing rival Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), in the regional government.

Both JxCat and ERC, as well as other Basque nationalist forces, provide Sánchez with key parliamentary backing to secure the stability of the coalition government.

In this sense, the president of the Catalan executive (Generalitat) and ERC candidate for re-election, Pere Aragonès, on Monday criticised Sánchez’s “five-day comedy” and said he doubts his honesty, wondering whether he would have made the same decision if there were no election campaign in Catalonia.


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