Spain opposition calls for PM to resign

2013-02-04 12:02
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reflects during an emergency meeting at the Popular Party headquarter in Madrid. (File, AP)

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reflects during an emergency meeting at the Popular Party headquarter in Madrid. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Madrid - The leader of Spain's opposition Socialist party called on Sunday for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to resign amid a damaging corruption scandal.

"Rajoy should give up his role as the head of government [because] he cannot tackle the very difficult situation confronting Spain," Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told reporters.

Spain's centre-left newspaper El Pais published account ledgers purportedly showing that donations were channelled into secret payments to Rajoy and other top party officials.

Rajoy has dismissed the ledgers as false and has vehemently denies receiving any payments.

The prime minister "cannot lead the country in this delicate time", Rubalcaba said.

"His presence [at the head of the government] is not going to help resolve this political crisis," the opposition leader said.

Angry demonstrations

The scandal has infuriated Spaniards, millions of whom are still struggling to find work in an ongoing recession with the highest jobless rate, at 26%, since the return of democracy in 1975.

Many feel they have been forced to bear the brunt of an economic crisis triggered by the collapse of a construction boom, which they blame on corrupt politicians and unscrupulous banks.

Since the scandal broke on Thursday, hundreds of angry demonstrators have mounted daily protests outside Rajoy's Popular Party (PP) offices, waving envelopes symbolising the envelopes stuffed with cash that were allegedly distributed to party members.

At Sunday's protest around 100 people hemmed in by barricades and police vans shouted "Resign!", "Delinquents!" and "This Isn't a Party, It's a Mafia!"

An online petition to oust Rajoy had gathered 766 000 signatures by midday on Sunday.

In an emergency meeting with PP members on Saturday, Rajoy fought off the allegations and vowed not to resign.

Moral crisis

"I have never received nor distributed undeclared money," he said.

"I commit myself personally and all of my party to maximum transparency," he added, promising to publish full details of his earnings and assets.

According to Rubalcaba, Spain needs "a strong government that inspires confidence and the government does not do that, starting with its leader".

Rajoy had "added a problem, a moral crisis", he said.

The published ledgers show details of donations, mostly from construction companies, that were then allegedly channelled into a fund benefiting Rajoy and other top officials.

El Pais cited ledgers kept by former party treasurer Luis Barcenas, apparently showing payments including €25 200 a year to Rajoy between 1997 and 2008.

Popularity decline

Had the payments been declared, they would be legal, the paper said.

Barcenas, who is already under investigation over reports that he had stashed millions of euros in Swiss bank accounts, denied the allegations, as did most of the top officials named in the report, who include the party's current secretary general Maria Dolores de Cospedal.

She rejected the allegations on behalf of the party, insisting that its accounts were "transparent".

A poll published in El Pais on Sunday showed that the PP's popularity rating had dropped to 23.9%, the lowest since it came to power in 2011, and only just higher than the Socialists on 23.5%.

Spain's authorities have meanwhile sought to play down the affair, with Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria saying the government enjoyed "great stability".

Rajoy swept to power in a 2011 election when voters angry at the economic crisis kicked out the Socialists. He defied speculation that the country would need a financial bailout in 2012, only for the political scandal to erupt in the new year.

Read more on:    mariano rajoy  |  spain

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

CSR Inbound

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
O'Brien Recruitment
R14 000 - R16 000 Per Month

Debtors/Creditors Supervisor

Century City
Pro Placements Recruitment Agency
R10 000 - R12 000 Per Month

Graphic Designer

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Creative Sourcing
R7 000 - R9 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.