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Spain: Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announces he will remain in office

The socialist leader canceled his public schedule last week to reflect on whether to resign following the judicial proceedings opened against his wife for corruption and influence peddling.

Pedro Sánchez, el presidente del Gobierno de España, dice que está considerando su renuncia tras estallar un escándalo de corrupción que salpica a su esposa

El jefe de Gobierno español, Pedro Sánchez. (Cordon Press)

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced Monday that he will remain in office. This was announced by the socialist leader during a closed-door speech, with no media access or time for questions, despite what had been promised at first. Prior to his announcement, the prime minister visited Zarzuela Palace, the residence of the Spanish royal family, to confirm his decision to King Felipe VI.

"I am making the decision, if possible, to continue with my work," said the socialist, who is accusing the opposition of carrying out a smear campaign against him and his government.

Sánchez's message comes five days after he announced in a letter to citizens that he needed a time for reflection. Sánchez's letter was interpreted as a possible resignation, in an unorthodox way, leaving uncertainty in the Spanish government. During these same days, he canceled his entire public schedule and confined himself to the presidential residence, Moncloa Palace. This Monday was his first public appearance since last Wednesday.

Pedro Sánchez said he published the letter due to a lawsuit filed against his wife, Begoña Gómez, for alleged crimes of corruption and influence peddling. A court in Madrid admitted the legal action and opened proceedings against the socialist prime minister's wife after a complaint from a union, Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), which was based on information reported by the press. Said information revealed that Begoña Gómez signed credentials for businessmen that were used to earn public contracts granted by Pedro Sánchez's government.

The socialist leader considered that the accusations against his wife are the result of a political smear campaign against him. His speech Monday focused almost exclusively on condemning these alleged practices. "It is a campaign of discredit, we have been suffering from it for years," said Sánchez.

Since then, Begoña Gómez has been in the public spotlight. In the configuration of the Spanish state, the wife of the prime minister does not have any official duties such as the U.S. first lady, given that Pedro Sánchez is not head of state. However, Begoña Gómez has been more visible than the wives of other prime ministers, especially during international events such as the NATO Summit in Madrid in 2022 or the Third Meeting of the European Political Community in Granada in 2023. On both occasions, Begoña Gómez actively participated in the organization of these events.

Opposition criticizes Sanchez's decision

The leaders of the political opposition criticized the president’s decision, which they described as an "embarrassment,” "ridiculous," "comedy" and "crude theater." The leaders of the opposing parties believe that the Socialist leader took advantage of the accusation against his wife to reassert himself to the public. In fact, according to polls by the Center for Sociological Research, which has often been accused of colluding with the government, Sánchez's rating has grown since he announced his potential resignation.

The leader of the Popular Party, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, claimed that Sánchez "has made a fool of a nation of 48 million Spaniards.” The moderate politician, who won the elections last June 2023, has accused Pedro Sánchez of using his private life for political gain.

Santiago Abascal, president of the conservative Vox party, also believes that Sánchez has made a mockery out of democracy. He said, "During these five days we have witnessed a crude, outrageous and victimizing theater, which has plunged us collectively into an international embarrassment.”