Gonzalez stands firm as ministers resign

Felipe Gonzalez, immersed in a quagmire of corruption that has plunged Spain into political crisis, yesterday conceded there had been an abuse of trust at high levels of government, but rejected calls for his resignation.

Speaking at a packed press conference after a meeting with King Juan Carlos, which had added fuel to resignation rumours, the Spanish Prime Minister said he considered it his responsibility to stay on, tackle the corruption epidemic and continue fighting the country's worst economic crisis in more than 30 years.

He faced the press after a day described in the media here as 'the blackest in Spain's democratic history'. Wednesday had seen his Agriculture Minister resign, admitting tax evasion, as well as the arrests of the former governor of the Bank of Spain, Mariano Rubio, and a former stock market broker, Manuel de la Concha, on suspicion of fraud and tax evasion. Both men were imprisoned and face up to 20 years' each if convicted.

Interior Minister Antoni Asuncion resigned last weekend after the former Guardia Civil chief Luis Roldan, under investigation for suspected massive self-enrichment at taxpayer's expense, disappeared and threatened to bring down other senior officials with him if he turned himself in.

Mr Roldan said he has been made a scapegoat, and Mr Rubio's wife, the Uruguayan writer Carmen Posadas, said the same of her husband. Although evidence published against both men suggests serious unethical and/or criminal conduct, there is a widespread feeling in Spain that they are 'taking the fall' for a system riddled with corruption, tax evasion, bribes, commissions and what is known here as enchufismo (having and using 'connections').

When Agriculture Minister Vicente Albero resigned, he spoke of having evaded an 'insignificant' amount of tax. Yesterday, prosecutors said the amount was at least 20 million pesetas (around pounds 100,000).

With the ruling Socialist establishment in a state of panic, Mr Gonzalez revealed that two of his closest friends and former ministers, Jose Luis Corcuera and Carlos Solchaga, had resigned from their current posts. Mr Corcuera, a former Interior Minister who was once Mr Roldan's boss, resigned his parliamentary seat. Mr Solchaga, former Minister of Economy and Finance and until now the Socialist Party's parliamentary leader, resigned from the latter post and resigned his seat.

Both Mr Corcuera and Mr Solchaga were said to have accepted political responsibility - Mr Corcuera in the Roldan affair and Mr Solchaga for the Rubio case - although there was no suggestion of criminal involvement by either man.

Mr Gonzalez said he was combining the Ministries of Interior and Justice, to be headed by the man currently in charge of the latter, Juan Alberto Belloch. Luis Atienza, formerly a senior official in the Energy Ministry, was named Agriculture Minister.

Despite the deepening crisis, Mr Gonzalez was defiant. 'The first doubt I want to clear up, because there has been speculation and some opposition forces are demanding my resignation, is that I'm not going to resign. On the contrary, I think my responsibility is to continue at the head of the executive and clear up the cases that have been presented, and any others that could crop up, and continue combating the economic crisis which we are beginning to overcome.'

Pressed by reporters, he admitted: 'I was responsible for trusting people I shouldn't have trusted. To that extent, I feel responsible. . .time has shown we've made mistakes. I've had trouble conceiving that someone would use public office for self-enrichment. There has been a very clear excess of trust.'

Of the possibility of a no- confidence motion, Mr Gonzalez said support had been guaranteed to him by the Catalan leader, Jordi Pujol, whose Catalan nationalists hold the balance of power in parliament.

Mr Pujol ratified his continuing support for Mr Gonzalez yesterday, but the Catalan leader is thought to be pressing for greater concessions towards outright Catalonian autonomy - and many believe his ultimate aim is independence from Spain.

(Photographs omitted)

News
i100
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Financial Accountants, Cardiff, £250 p/day

£180 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountants - Key Banking...

Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Real Staffing - Leeds - £18k+

£18000 - £27000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sales - Trainee Recruitment Co...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices