Spanish prime minister on brink of resigning over wife’s corruption scandal

PM denies allegations against his wife but says they will cooperate with investigation and defend her innocence

Shweta Sharma
Thursday 25 April 2024 06:22 BST
FILE: Pedro Sanchez says Spanish position on Brexit agreement has been reinforced

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez said he was stepping back from public duties for a few days to “reflect and decide” if he should resign after a court launched a business corruption probe into his wife’s private dealings.

Mr Sanchez said on Wednesday he would announce his decision on 29 April on “whether I should continue to lead the government or renounce this honour”.

"I need to pause and think," he wrote in a letter shared on his X account. "At this point, I have to ask myself: Is it all worth it?

"I will cancel my public agenda for a few days in order to reflect and decide which path to take,” the PM said.

On Wednesday, a Spanish court launched a preliminary investigation against his wife Begona Gomez over allegations of influence peddling and corruption. The court did not provide further details as the case is sealed and in early stages.

It was followed by a complaint raised by the anti-graft campaign group Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), whose leader has links to the far right.

The PM has denied the allegations against his wife but said they will cooperate with the investigation and defend her innocence.

File Spain's Socialist leader and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, accompanied by his wife Begona Gomez, applauds as he addresses supporters during the general election (REUTERS)

Manos Limpias has alleged that Ms Gomez received benefits from Air Europa and its Spanish parent company Globalia while serving as director of an African research centre at Madrid’s IE Business School until 2022, according to a seven-page document published by radio station Cadena Ser on its website.

IE Business has denied receiving any financial support from Globalia or its entities. Globalia did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

In his lengthy letter, Mr Sanchez also attacked opposition leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo of the People’s Party (PP) and Santiago Abascal of the far-right Vox party, saying that he "collaborated" with those circulating the claims against his wife.

The conservative PP demanded explanations in parliament on Wednesday, saying “he’s (PM) running away from his responsibilities.”

Mr Sanchez left parliament for his residence in Madrid, appearing visibly upset, according to Spanish media reports. Several cabinet members were seen arriving at his residence in the evening.

"I am not naive. I realise they are denouncing Begoña, not because she has done anything illegal - they know there is no case – but because she is my wife," Mr Sanchez said in his statement.

Mr Sanchez, who came to power after leading a no-confidence vote in 2018 against Mariano Rajoy of the PP, called snap elections last year after his PSOE party performed poorly in regional elections.

The PP won the most seats but failed to reach a majority in the July national election, allowing Mr Sanchez to form a controversial deal with smaller regional parties to govern that included an amnesty for Catalans who were involved in a 2017 independence push.

Opposition parties were outraged by the Amnesty to Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and Together for Catalonia (JxCat) that has now allowed former Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont a chance to stand in next month’s regional vote for the first time in seven years since he went into exile in Belgium to avoid arrest.

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