22 May, 2024 @ 16:56
2 mins read

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez defends himself and his wife in Congress against influence-peddling accusations: ‘We have nothing to hide’

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez
(Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)

THE Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, defended both himself and his wife during a session in Congress today, in the wake of accusations of influence-peddling that have been levelled against Begoña Gomez in sectors of the Spanish press as well as by a labour union

“My wife is an honest and responsible professional and my government is a clean government,” the Socialist Party leader said during his appearance on Wednesday in the lower house of parliament. 

He also railed against the main opposition Partido Popular (PP), arguing that people who commit influence-peddling offences ‘don’t do so sending official letters’, as his wife had done, but rather ‘with envelopes with their initials on and bundles of banknotes inside’.

Sanchez was making reference to a scandal that rocked the PP, when it emerged that the party had been running a parallel accounting system for years that involved off-the-books cash payments to politicians. 

Read more: Wife of Spain’s Pedro Sanchez is cleared by police

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez addresses Congress in a file photo from 2023. (Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)

“We are not all equal,” he said to the assembled lawmakers. “And if you don’t believe me, count the number of former PP ministers who have been tried and sentenced for corruption and then count mine.”

The prime minister also insisted that he and his wife had ‘nothing to hide’ and that they would both be ‘delighted’ to respond to questions at a Senate investigatory commission. 

The leader of the PP, meanwhile, slammed Sanchez during today’s session. “The more time that passes without providing information about the corruption that is haunting you, the more obvious it is that you want to hide it,” he said. 

The controversy involving the prime minister’s wife came to a head in April, when a Madrid judge opened an investigation into her business dealings after a lawsuit was filed by a pressure group called Manos Limpias (Clean Hands). 

The group is usually described in Spain as an anti-corruption ‘pseudo-union’, and has brought a series of high-profile court cases in recent years. Its leader, Miguel Bernad, is alleged to have links to the far right. 

The lawsuit, however, was based on press clippings from a series of online news outlets. Some of the accusations in the said stories have already been proved to be completely false. The public prosecutor called for the case to be shelved.

Yesterday, Spanish newspaper El Pais released details of a leaked investigation by the Guardia Civil into Gomez’s activities. The police force had found no evidence of any influence peddling on her part. 

During today’s session, Feijoo also attacked Sanchez for his announcement that the Spanish Cabinet would recognise a Palestinian state next week. 

“You are not interested in talking about Palestine due to principles, you are doing it to talk about something else other than the Socialist Party’s corruption, because you believe that this way you can divide Spaniards and benefit from it,” the PP leader railed.

Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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