Spanish conservatives slam Sánchez’s theatrics after PM announces he’ll continue in office

After a weekend of deliberations following fresh corruption allegations against his wife, Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez decided to continue in the role, and his political opponents didn't hold back in their response to Monday's announcement

FILE, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez addresses the European Parliament Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023, in Strasbourg, eastern France. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias, File)
By Thomas Brooke
5 Min Read

Spanish conservatives pulled no punches in their criticism of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez after the Spanish premier announced on Monday his intention to continue in office.

At a press conference on Monday, Sánchez said a mobilization of support from his Socialist party had convinced him to stay on as prime minister despite a new investigation being opened into his wife, Begoña Gómez, amid allegations of corruption.

The Socialist leader had announced on Thursday he was stepping down from public duties for a few days to consider his position in light of the new allegations, but has since confirmed he will fight on.

Addressing the public following Sánchez’s announcement, the leader of Spain’s VOX party, Santiago Abascal, accused the prime minister of being an “angry, unleashed autocrat” whose “victimizing” theatrics had plunged Spain into an “international embarrassment of incalculable proportions.”

“I said yesterday that the decision made today by the President of the Government would be taken based exclusively on personal interests. I said this while taking into account our experience of the last five years, and I don’t think I was wrong,” Abascal told journalists.

He lamented the decision taken by Sánchez to continue, claiming it would result in the continuity of attacks against “unity, against co-existence, against the rule of law, the separation of powers, and against freedom of the press.”

“The worst for Sánchez is yet to come,” Abascal warned, “and we have to work to minimize the damage to the Spanish people and build a viable alternative. VOX has not stopped doing so with full intensity, exercising total opposition.”

Vox MEP Hermann Tertsch was arguably more scathing, accusing Sánchez and his family of “leading Spain into civil war” and claiming the prime minister planned to “go for the judges, for the free press, and for his political opposition.”

“His Cuban/Venezuelan-style communist criminal project will have us on our knees. He will end up in the trash heap of history, the only place he belongs,” Tertsch added.

Alberto Núñez Feijóo, leader of Spain’s center-right Partido Popular opposition, called for an election following Sánchez’s announcement.

“The only way to make a point in politics is to consult the Spanish people. Spain needs a new democratic government, with a president worthy of it and not the regime change that Pedro Sánchez intends to sneak in behind this whole play,” he said at his own press conference.

Spanish political analyst and conservative journalist Rubén Pulido said the ramifications of Sánchez’s decision to continue were not yet known.

“We will see what price the non-resignation of Pedro Sánchez has in the short and long term. After a pause in which we do not know what type of discussions have taken place, in a context of events that are not only detrimental to him but also to Spain.”

He claimed the prime minister now had “zero credibility” and “no respect at the international level,” adding that it was more important than ever to “fight for a change of direction.”

Sánchez’s opposition had claimed last week it was unlikely he would step down because his position as prime minister affords him certain legal protections.

The allegations against Sánchez’s wife, first reported by center-right news outlet El Confidencial, claim she met with the bosses of several private companies that went on to receive government funding or public contracts from Sánchez’s administration.

One example involves two meetings with Javier Hidalgo, the chief executive of a tourism holding company before Sánchez’s government granted the Hidalgo family’s airline, Air Europa, a taxpayer bailout of nearly €500 million.

Sánchez responded to the allegations on Thursday by accusing right-wing media outlets of doing the dirty work of his political opponents who he said were slinging mud to “dehumanize and delegitimize” him and his family.

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