Spain: Pedro Sánchez to remain PM

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will not be stepping down. After suspending his official duties last week he announced on Monday that he would continue as head of government "with more energy if possible". Sanchez had said he was considering resigning after the right-wing organisation Manos Limpias filed a lawsuit accusing his wife, Begoña Gómez, of corruption. Thousands of Spaniards took to the streets over the weekend calling on him to remain in office.

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Der Spiegel (DE) /

Politics as a telenovela

Der Spiegel sees two explanations for the goings-on in Spanish politics over the past few days:

“In the first scenario, Sánchez was overcome by concern for his wife and seriously considered resigning. ... In the second scenario, which now seems more likely, Sánchez put up a smokescreen to spare himself an embarrassing debate about his wife's business affairs - and to put the dirty methods of his opponents in the public eye instead. But whatever the case, one thing is certain: Sánchez turned Spanish politics into a telenovela over the past five days. This bizarre spectacle has damaged him and his office; it was unworthy of a prime minister.” (ES) /

Hated more than ever by the right

Ignacio Escolar, editor-in-chief of, sees dark times ahead:

“The prime minister will remain in office, and with a public commitment: 'To work tirelessly, resolutely and with generosity for the long overdue renewal of our democracy'. Even if it sounds vague, this is highly relevant. ... Spain has a serious problem with disinformation, fake news and lies. It has a serious problem with the blockade of the General Council of the Judiciary and the misuse of criminal proceedings. It has a problem with the extreme toxicity of public life. ... The recent events will have enormous consequences for Spanish politics. ... Will they help to reduce the tensions? I fear not. ... Sánchez is now even more hated by the right than he was before.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Some of the dirt always sticks

Commenting in the taz, Spain correspondent Reiner Wandler sees the lawsuit as a typically perfidious right-wing tactic:

“Whether it's against pro-independence politicians in Catalonia or the Basque Country, leftist alternative politicians or, as now, against Sánchez, the right is experienced in this type of smear campaign. Media financed by regional governments through institutional advertising fabricate news, ultra-right organisations file lawsuits, judges loyal to the PP and VOX launch legal proceedings. Even if almost all of them are eventually dropped, some of the dirt always sticks. The fact that now even the family is being targeted by the mud-slinging - without there being any evidence to support the accusations - is new. Lawfare - an attempted coup aided by judges - is what is going on in Spain right now.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

Women as targets in the power struggle

Phileleftheros puts in:

“It can be established beyond a doubt that the accusations brought by Manos Limpias were not aimed at Begoña Gómez but at Pedro Sánchez. It was an easy way to slander the Spanish prime minister using his wife. This is not the first time that such an accusation has been levelled against a politician's wife, through no fault of her own. In the past there have been many cases of sexist attacks against politicians' wives, with the result that an entire country finds itself in the eye of the hurricane from one moment to the next. This is particularly easy when the climate is as polarised as it is in Spain.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Code of ethics urgently needed

This case highlights a fundamental problem, warns Spanish lawyer Miriam González Durántez in the Financial Times:

“In Spain there is no effective system to deal with conflicts of interest of politicians' families and spouses. Thus, it is unavoidable that this issue ends up being played out in the political arena and the courts, rather than by way of a more low-key process, where it belongs. ... We do not have rules limiting the use of ministerial houses or official aeroplanes. We do not have legislation on lobbies. ... And of course we do not have an independent ethics adviser, as in the British system. This lack of comprehensive rules on ethics is a perpetual problem in Spanish politics. ... Spain urgently needs a new approach to ethics in public life and a ministerial code of ethics.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Perhaps he was considering going international

Rzeczpospolita wonders whether Sánchez was eyeing the EU Council presidency:

“It's quite possible that the head of government has decided that now is the perfect time for him to advance his international career. True, in a country that spends barely 1.3 percent of its GDP on defence, the chances of him replacing Jens Stoltenberg as Nato Secretary General are slim. Within the EU, however, things look very different. If the polls are to be believed, the socialist group (S&D) will end up with the most MEPs in the European Parliament after the moderate right (EPP). And it will be able to decide who occupies the second most important post in the EU: that of President of the European Council.”

El País (ES) /

An unprecedented step

El País sees the situation as very serious:

“With this unprecedented step, Pedro Sánchez is pointing the finger directly at Santiago Abascal [Vox] and Alberto Núñez Feijóo [PP], whom he describes, along with [the far-right group] Manos Limpias as part of a 'coalition of right-wing and far-right interests that is spreading across the key Western democracies'. One can't but think of Portugal and the resignation of Prime Minister António Costa over allegations of influence peddling, which have just been dismissed by the courts but put an end to a progressive government that had an absolute majority. ... Anyone who believes that there was a calculated strategy behind the letter should reread it carefully and see how emotionally charged it is. ... Whatever the outcome, it is unthinkable that nothing will happen on Monday.”

El Mundo (ES) /

A symptom of political weakness

El Mundo accuses Sánchez of poor tactics:

“With his high-voltage move, the prime minister has thrown Spanish society into turmoil and exacerbated the division between citizens which is characteristic of his style of government. ... The prime minister's coup is a symptom of clear political weakness. On the eve of the Catalan and European elections, Sánchez has alluded to the supposedly 'unprecedented attacks' of an ultra-conservative 'constellation' in order to conceal the truly exceptional nature of the situation: that of a leader who lost the elections and who lacks the parliamentary majority to govern, meaning that the ability to govern depends on extremist parties.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

The worst political style

El Periódico de Catalunya is irked by Sánchez's behaviour:

“The head of government's written announcement that he is taking a five-day period to reflect on his possible resignation can only be described as irresponsible. ... This is not the time to increase the instability of a situation which the prime minister himself created and for which he alone is responsible. ... The citizens bear no blame for what is happening to the prime minister. ... The irresponsibility of one person must not be allowed to paralyse an entire political system. Postponed resignations are the worst style of politics.”