Spain’s Sanchez drama: PM draws criticism after toying with resignation

Madrid, Spain – Millions of people in Spain were glued to their television sets as Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez addressed the nation live and vowed that the government would remain in charge.

Monday’s announcement ended five tense days. Last week, the country appeared to be in limbo while Mr Sanchez considered his own future over a corruption scandal involving his wife.

“I have decided to continue with even greater strength in the command of the Spanish government. Things will be different,” Sánchez said, staring into the camera with a grim expression.

The prime minister denied the allegations against his wife, Begona Gómez, and said he and his family had been the target of a 10-year smear campaign by his political opponents.

He also rejected accusations that the five days he spent contemplating his future as president were politically motivated, saying the time had come to reflect on the growing polarization of Spanish politics.

“For too long we have allowed this filth to corrupt our political and public life in toxic ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. We really want Spain to do this. “Is that what you want?” he asked.

“I have acted on a clear belief that we must say, ‘Enough is enough,’ or that this deterioration of public life will define our future and condemn us as a nation. .”

At Madrid’s El Padrón bar, Hercules Sanchez was unimpressed.

“In the end, this was all a stunt. He made the whole country wait while pretending to be concerned about this trial, all the while intending to carry on as normal,” he told NDMT.

“With the election coming up, I think he just wanted to gain support for his cause. If there’s nothing against his wife in this case, let the court decide.”

Voters will head to the polls for Catalonia’s main regional elections on May 12, while European Parliament elections are scheduled for June.

Mr. Sánchez agreed to cooperate with Catalan separatists in exchange for government support and political ties to EH Bildou, a political party linked to the defunct Basque separatist group ETA. It has long been hated by elements of the Spanish right that oppose the amnesty deal.

Far-right groups have previously staged months of demonstrations outside the headquarters of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party in Madrid, beating up a statue of Sanchez.

Pedro J. Ramirez, editor-in-chief of the right-wing online newspaper El Espanol, said Mr. Sánchez had engaged in “political maneuvering.”

“I agree with Mr. Sánchez that there is a need for political renewal, but this does not mean that we need to limit the actions of judges,” he told state-run RTVE television. said.

Across Madrid, Gemma Alamar, who runs a software company, took time off from work to drink coffee at a local bar and watch Sanchez on TV.

“I’m glad he’s staying. These allegations are clearly nonsense and have been fabricated by people who want Mr. Sanchez to be ousted. They will do anything to harm him.” she told NDMT.

“Our democracy is being poisoned by nonsense like this. We need to wake up and realize the difference between democratic debate and politically motivated bile.”

What’s behind the drama?

The drama began on Wednesday when a court in Madrid opened a preliminary investigation into allegations against Gomez by Manos Limpias (Clean Hands). Although the group calls itself a labor union, it primarily files lawsuits related to right-wing causes.

The group said in a Facebook post that the lawsuit was based on media reports.

Madrid prosecutors announced on Thursday that they would appeal personal charges filed against Gomez on suspicion of misappropriation of influence and corporate corruption.

Ana Carmona, a constitutional law professor at the University of Seville, said she did not think Sánchez’s words would change the political environment.

“The prime minister’s declaration will not change Spain’s polarized political culture. The country needs a real gesture to make that happen,” she told NDMT.

“What matters is how the opposition and the country react to Sánchez’s words. Perhaps Mr. Sánchez should have called for a vote of confidence in Congress. “It will encourage discussion and engagement about what is happening,” she said.

Opposition parties accused Sanchez of taking five days off from official duties to consider his future as nothing more than a political ploy.

“All he wants is uncontrolled and disproportionate power,” Isabel Ayuso, head of the populist conservatives in Madrid’s regional government and seen as a potential future prime minister, told reporters. Told.

Oriol Bartomeus, a political expert at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​said the situation of political polarization is not new in Spain, which only restored democracy in 1978 after a long period of dictatorship. Ta.

But he said Sanchez has learned from history and will continue to attack under pressure.

“There are many similarities to the situation 30 years ago, when the then Socialist government was under much criticism for corruption scandals, but the government’s policies were resistant.” I think he’s learned and he’s going to keep attacking.”

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