Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will not resign

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Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will not resign
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has decided to stay in office. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP)

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Monday announced that he has decided to continue as PM after taking a five-day hiatus from office following a dubious corruption investigation into his wife's business dealings.


"I've decided to continue, with more strength if possible, in charge of the premiership of Spain's government" Pedro Sánchez said from the Moncloa palace in Madrid, his official residence.

Sánchez announced last Wednesday that he was mulling resignation after a Madrid court opened a preliminary probe into suspected influence peddling and corruption targeting his wife Begoña Gómez.

READ ALSO: Who is Begoña Gómez? Spanish PM's partner thrust into spotlight


"I need to stop and think whether I should continue to head the government or whether I should give up this honour," he wrote in a four-page letter posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Upon announcing his decision to stay, Sánchez said that "my wife and I know that the smear campaign will not stop, but it is not the most relevant thing, we can handle it."

Denying the move was a "political calculation", Sánchez said he needed "to stop and reflect" on the growing polarisation within politics which he said was increasingly being driven by "deliberate disinformation".

"For too long we've let this filth corrupt our political and public life with toxic methods that were unimaginable just a few years ago... Do we really want this for Spain?" he asked.

"I have acted out of a clear conviction: either we say 'enough is enough' or this degradation of public life will define our future and condemn us as a country.

"Let us show the world how democracy is defended, let us put an end to this smearing in the only possible way, through collective, serene, democratic rejection, beyond acronyms and ideologies, which I am committed to do firmly as Prime Minister of the Government of Spain", Sánchez argued.

Spain's public prosecutor's office on Thursday requested the dismissal of the investigation into Begoña Gómez's business dealings.

"I ask Spanish society to once again be an example and inspiration for a wounded world," the 52-year-old said, calling for a popular mobilisation to "decide what we want to be", which makes way "for fair play".


Thousands of supporters massed outside the headquarters of Sánchez's Socialist party in Madrid on Saturday chanting "Pedro, stay!".

“We want to thank you for all the support we've received," Sánchez said on Monday. "Thanks to this mobilisation, I have decided to continue as Prime Minister".

In response to the news, Minister of Foreign Affairs José Manuel Albares said "I am very happy about the decision that the PM has just announced, it is good for Spain, for progressive policies and for Spain's leadership position in Europe and in the world."

"What great news. Today democracy wins," tweeted Patxi López, spokesperson for the PSOE in Congress.

For his part, former Consumer Affairs Minister Alberto Garzón argued that "Pedro Sánchez has made the right decision. Now it is time to make many in-depth reforms to neutralise the entire strategy and dynamics of the reactionary bloc", in reference to right-wing parties PP and Vox.

Not everyone has been so positive with Sánchez's announcement, however. Gabriel Rufián, head of Catalan separatist party ERC which supported the Socialist leader's in his 2023 investiture vote, described Sánchez's yo-yoing as a "frivolous act".

Catalan regional president Pere Aragonès called it "five days of comedy" and a "smokescreen". 

Right-wing PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo told a press conference that Sánchez had "made a fool of himself" and "used his Majesty (King Felipe VI) as a supporting actor in his film", in reference to the PM's meeting with the monarch earlier on Monday.

Madrid's populist right-wing regional leader Isabel Díaz Ayuso slammed Sánchez's behaviour as "absolute shamelessness".

And the leader of far-right party Vox, Santiago Abascal, warned that "the worst of Sánchez is yet to come" and that Spain needs "an urgent and viable alternative" to him.

Had Sánchez decided to resign, his first Deputy Prime Minister María Jesús Montero would have temporarily taken over as Prime Minister until King Felipe VI designated a new candidate and the Spanish Parliament voted on whether they should be elected as Spain's new PM.


'Harassment' campaign

The court opened its investigation into Sánchez's wife in response to a complaint by anti-corruption pressure group Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), whose leader is linked to the far right.

Shortly after Sánchez's bombshell letter went out on X, the group, which has presented a litany of unsuccessful lawsuits against politicians in the past, said it had based its complaint on media reports and could not vouch for their veracity.

While the court did not give details of the case, online news site El Confidencial said it was related to her ties to several private companies that received government funding or won public contracts.

Sánchez has been vilified by right-wing opponents and media because his minority government relies on the support of the hard left and Catalan and Basque separatist parties to pass laws.

They have been especially angered by his decision to grant an amnesty to hundreds of Catalan separatists facing legal action over their roles in the northeastern region's failed push for independence in 2017.

That amnesty, in exchange for the support of Catalan separatist parties, still needs final approval in parliament.

The opposition has since Wednesday mocked Sánchez's decision to withdraw from his public duties as an attempt to rally his supporters.

"A head of government can't make a show of himself like a teenager and have everyone running after him, begging him not to leave and not to get angry," said right-wing opposition leader and Popular Party head Alberto Núñez Feijóo on Thursday.



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