Spain’s PM Announces Finale of Wild Political Soap Opera


A feverish five-day political drama in Spain finally came to an end Monday with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s decision to remain in his role despite saying he was contemplating resigning over the launch of a corruption investigation into his wife.

Socialist Sánchez last week said he was considering standing down after a court decided to permit a judicial probe into his spouse, Begoña Gómez. Sánchez, who has led Spain since 2018, slammed his opponents for launching a “harassment and bullying operation” and canceled his public duties while he considered his future.

He also theatrically promised to make a statement announcing his final decision one way or the other on Monday. After a weekend of frenzied speculation about what would happen and a series of demonstrations around the country calling for him to stay, Sánchez announced in a speech that he would, in fact, be going nowhere.

Speaking from his official residence in Madrid in a televised address, Sánchez said the expressions “of solidarity from all sections of society” had informed his decision to stay, according to the BBC’s translation of his remarks. He also said he would continue “with more strength if possible.”

“This isn’t about the destiny of one leader,” he said. “It’s about deciding what kind of society we want to be. Our country needs this self-reflection. We have let the mud soil our public life for too long.”

The allegations of wrongdoing against Gómez that sparked the talk of resignation came from a group called Clean Hands. The group—whose leader has links with the extreme right—had relied on online news reports in its complaint and acknowledged the publications’ claims could be incorrect.

Prosecutors in Spain said the complaint should be dismissed, and one of the news stories has already been shown to be false. In a public letter Wednesday, Sánchez said the allegations—in which Gómez was accused of exploiting her position for influence peddling and business corruption—were baseless and said he was “deeply in love” with his wife.

“I am aware that I have shown a degree of personal intimacy that is not normally permitted in politics,” Sánchez said while announcing his decision to remain as prime minister. He also said that his talk of resigning and the axing of his public duties “was not done out of a political calculus.”

His opponents disagree.

The conservative Popular Party leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo on Monday accused Sánchez of having “pulled the leg of a nation of 48 million people,” according to the Associated Press. “He neglected his duties for five days as part of a campaign ploy.”

Santiago Abascal, the president of the hard-right Vox party, similarly claimed that Sánchez’s histrionics had pushed Spain into “international embarrassment of incalculable dimensions.”



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