PSOE in spotlight over Madrid chief sacking

PSOE in spotlight over Madrid chief sacking
Tomás Gómez with former Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, May 2011. Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP
Spain´s socialist party was thrown into chaos on Wednesday when its Madrid chief refused to step aside quietly after being sacked over allegations of misconduct.

Tomás Gómez, head of Madrid´s regional branch of the PSOE was dismissed on Wednesday morning after he failed to turn up to a meeting with party leader Pedro Sánchez to discuss an ongoing investigation into a construction project that Gómez led while mayor of Parla, a commuter town outside Madrid.

Under investigation is whether corruption was at play in the running of Parla´s hugely expensive tram project, the cost of which ballooned from €108 million to more than €250 million and pushed the town council into bankruptcy.  

Under pressure with elections due later this year and after opinion polls showed support for the PSOE had plummeted in favour for new left wing party Podemos, the PSOE executive took the unexpected decision to axe Gómez.

The PSOE announced that Gómez had been dismissed on Wednesday morning with sources explaining that the decision was taken "as a measure to limit damage to the party image."

But just hours after the announcement Gómez, who was mayor of Parla between 1999 and 2008, called a press conference to say that he would not go quietly.

"I am going to defend my honor before the party," Gómez told reporters. "This has only just begun."

Refusing to rule out legal action against the PSOE leadership he insisted that the move to oust him had been "undemocratic".

"In keeping with the weakness of his leadership, Pedro Sánchez has joined the right-wing in its efforts to wear me down in an attempt to strengthen his internal power," Gómez said.

"This is a huge mistake with disastrous consequences for our party, and all of the upcoming electoral processes," Gomez warned, adding "I am going to defend democracy and this federation, and my honor, if it is necessary, in the courts."

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