PEDRO Sanchez accused Mariano Rajoy of not being a ‘decent man’ in Monday night’s live general election TV debate which was watched by 9.7 milion Spaniards.
The PSOE leader ripped into the Spanish prime minister over his links to jailed former PP treasurer Luis Barcenas ahead of Sunday’s election.
Barcenas was imprisoned in 2013 and claimed he had distributed millions from a slush fund to senior PP members, including Rajoy.
Rajoy, who declined the opportunity to appear in two previous live TV debates, has denied the claims.
Telling Rajoy he should have resigned two years ago over the scandal, Sanchez said: “If you continue as prime minister, the cost for democracy is enormous. You are not a decent politician.”
Rajoy replied: “You can recover from an election loss, but you can’t recover from the contemptible, mean and despicable statement you have made here today.
“I am clean and decent and I have been in politics for 30 years.”
In a poll, 48.73% of El Pais readers felt Sanchez came out on top in the debate with 46,23% opting for Rajoy.
Ciudadanos and Podemos leaders Albert Rivera and Pablo Iglesias were excluded from the debate between the leaders of Spain’s two main parties, but appeared on a special La Sexta programme to analyse the head-to-head immediately afterwards.
Rivera described it as a ‘negative debate about the past’.
Podemos head Pablo Iglesias said ‘our country doesn’t deserve a battle like this’.
During the debate, Rajoy defended his economic record, pointing to Spain’s falling unemployment rate and a growing economy
Sanchez pointed to rising inequality and produced graphs to show how a family’s income had slumped to just one euro a day since Rajoy took over.
According to the most recent polls, the PP look set to win on Sunday but are a long way from securing the required number of seats.