Monday, May 20, 2024

Pedro Sánchez says he will remain in office as Spain’s prime minister -Dlight News

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Pedro Sánchez shocked Spain by announcing that he would stay on as the country’s prime minister and fight back against “toxic” politics, having spent five days deciding whether he wanted to remain in power.

“I have decided to go on with more strength,” Sánchez said in an address to the country outside his official residence on Monday. “This is an inflection point. I guarantee it.”

The 52-year-old’s announcement came after he was blindsided last week by a judge’s move to open a preliminary investigation into his wife, Begoña Gómez, over corruption allegations.

Condemning attacks on his family by right-wing forces, he said they were part of “a global reactionary movement that aims to impose its regressive agenda through defamation and falsehood, hatred and appeals to fear”.

Public life had been “contaminated by toxic practices that were unimaginable just a few years ago”, Sánchez said.

He called on Spain to make itself an example to the world and sought to position himself as a leader of the fightback. “Let us put an end to this mire in the only way possible, by rejecting it calmly and collectively through democracy,” he said.

His decision to stay in office will trigger tough questions about why he pitched Spain into several days of suspense and speculation by publishing an open letter to the country last Wednesday saying he was asking himself: “Is it worth it?”

It is likely to heighten the fury directed at him by his conservative opponents, who had already accused him of degrading Spain’s institutions in the unscrupulous pursuit of power and branded his stay-or-go letter as an act of narcissism.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, a senior leader in the opposition People’s party (PP) and head of the Madrid regional government, said that Sánchez “took advantage of the five days to work out how to attack judges, political parties and the independent press”.

“The president of the government operates according to the maxim ‘You’re either with me or against me’ and that’s what he’s been doing,” she added.

In his letter Sánchez said he was the victim of a campaign of “harassment and destruction” involving the PP, the far-right Vox party, the judiciary and the right-wing media.

The judicial investigation into Sánchez’s wife was triggered by a complaint from Manos Limpias, a group with far-right links and a history of launching politically tinged litigation. It alleged that Gómez had engaged in influence peddling in her dealings with private businesses.

Sánchez described any supposed wrongdoing by Gómez as “non-existent” in his letter. His wife has not spoken about the allegations. The PP has suggested there may be more revelations about Gómez to come without providing any evidence.

On Monday Sánchez said: “My wife and I know that this smear campaign will not stop. We’ve been suffering from it for 10 years . . . We can take it.”

He argued that his actions were not “a question of ideology”, but rather about “respect, about dignity”.

One of Sánchez’s parliamentary allies reacted coolly to his statement on Monday.

Gabriel Rufián of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, a Catalan party whose votes Sánchez needs, said the five-day pause would turn out to be a “bad example if he does nothing because it will have been an act of frivolity and not something real”.

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