Spain: will spying scandal bring down the government?

Two weeks ago it emerged that Spain's National Intelligence Centre (CNI) spied on Catalan politicians belonging to the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) party using Pegasus software. Now Prime Minister Sánchez has announced that he and other members of government members were also targeted. Since the ERC is one of the most important partners in Sánchez's minority government the question is why he announced this now of all times - and whether it can help him out of the current predicament.

Open/close all quotes (ES) /

Sooner or later Sánchez must go

For the question is how long Sánchez can hold out:

“The mistakes made in the handling of the scandal are grave and point to a serious leadership problem. ... The question is not whether Pedro Sánchez will survive this storm but whether what has happened in the last few days is the beginning of an agony that will inevitably end in a few months' time. ... The government might make it to the summer if unforeseen events do not prevent this. And host a Nato summit [at the end of June] at which Spanish espionage will no doubt be a major topic of discussion.”

ABC (ES) /

Negotiating but also spying

ABC sees good reasons for spying on Catalan politicians, but not for the prime minister's contradictory behaviour:

“[The CNI] did this for a just cause, to clarify any links between separatist leaders and the Tsunami Democràtic movement, which provoked violent riots months earlier that were classified as terrorism. And also to investigate alleged links to the Kremlin. ... But the question is why would the government allow a partner like the ERC to be spied on yet at the same time continue to negotiate with it? ... There is only one explanation for this servility: Sánchez's political survival, even if it comes at the expense of the state's security.”

El País (ES) /

Attack on democracy

El País calls for a national and international debate on the regulation of surveillance software:

“The confirmation puts all supranational organisations to which Spain belongs on alert because it is an attack on national security. ... As other European leaders have seen, Pegasus evades the rules and controls of international law to the same extent that tax havens or tech giants do. A fundamental debate urgently needs to be launched here so that measures are taken to ensure that there is no repetition of these encroachments which undermine the pillars of democracy.” (ES) /

Secret service not doing its job demands accountability from Spain's National Intelligence Centre (CNI):

“According to sources at least 1,483 phones with Spanish area codes have been targeted with Pegasus. ... By whom? ... The CNI has many questions to answer: how can it be that it took the secret service a whole year to discover such an attack of this type on those leading the government? Why were these terminals not checked earlier, when more than a dozen attacks with Pegasus spyware on heads of state and prime ministers all over the world have already been reported? ... It's obvious that many things are not working as they should at the CNI. In recent years it has spent more time and resources protecting the former king's zip fly than doing its job.”