Spain: Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announces he will remain in power, five days after threatening to resign

The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, announced on Monday April 29 his decision to remain in power despite the “campaign of discredit” of which he accuses the right-wing opposition and the latest illustration of which was, according to him, the opening of an investigation against his wife

Spain: Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announces he will remain in power, five days after threatening to resign

The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, announced on Monday April 29 his decision to remain in power despite the “campaign of discredit” of which he accuses the right-wing opposition and the latest illustration of which was, according to him, the opening of an investigation against his wife.

“I decided to continue” at the head of the government, declared the 52-year-old socialist leader, in power since 2018, who spoke during an “institutional address” at the Moncloa Palace, the official residence of the head of government in Madrid.

He called on the country to undertake “collective reflection” on the polarization of political life, in order to prevent “disinformation from ruling the debate”. “Either we say “enough” or the degradation of public life will condition our future and doom us as a country,” he added.

Mr. Sanchez stunned Spain by putting his resignation in the balance on Wednesday, after a Madrid court announced the opening of a preliminary investigation against his wife, Begoña Gomez, for influence peddling and corporate corruption , following a complaint filed by the far-right association Manos limpias (“clean hands”).

Absolutely unprecedented fact, Mr. Sanchez had suspended all his public activities, while he was notably due to launch, Thursday evening, the regional campaign of May 12 in Catalonia, a vote of national scope in which his Socialist Party hopes to drive out the separatists from power.

“I am aware that they are filing a complaint against Begoña not because she did something illegal – they know there is no case – but because she is my wife, had Mr. Sanchez reacted on X on Wednesday. The right and the ultra-right have gone beyond the limits of respect for the family life of a president of the government” by trying to “dehumanize and delegitimize the political adversary through complaints as scandalous as they are false.”

Tense political context

A fundraising expert, Ms. Gomez continued her professional activity after her husband came to power in 2018. In the Manos Limpias complaint, which includes information published by the site El Confidencial, she is notably accused of 'having signed a letter of recommendation to a business leader who was requesting public subsidies, or even having met, in the summer of 2020, the president of the Globalia group, Javier Hidalgo, to discuss possible partnerships, while she ran a foundation, IE Africa Center. However, the business leader was then negotiating a rescue plan with the government for his airline, Air Europa, damaged by the pandemic; these negotiations resulted in a loan of 475 million euros.

The prosecution requested the closure of this investigation on Thursday, while Manos Limpias admitted that his complaint was based solely on press articles, but the judge in charge of the case has not yet revealed his intentions.

A figure hated by the opposition, Mr. Sanchez – who governs with the far left and enjoys the support of Basque and Catalan separatists – wants to see in this affair a campaign orchestrated by “a coalition of right-wing and far-right interests » who “do not accept the verdict of the ballot boxes”.

Very polarized, the political context has become very tense in recent months due to the fierce opposition of the right to an amnesty law for the separatists involved in the attempted secession of Catalonia in 2017. Very controversial concession by M . Sanchez to the Catalan separatists, in exchange for their support for his renewal for a new term in November, this law was passed at first reading in March and should be definitively adopted at the end of May.