Spanish Prime Minister involved in a corruption scandal
Spain’s Premiere Mariano Rajoy responds to allegations by denying any involvement in the affair, while citizens protest and calls for his resignation.
Last Saturday during a press conference Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejected allegations made by the media, according to which he and other members of the Popular Party would have collected dirty money in the past nineteen years.
“It is false. Never, I repeat, never received, or distributed black money either in this party or anywhere else” he said.
But the documents published last Thursday by El País newspaper said the contrary. They show a long series of detailed extra payments to members of the PP not recorded in the official book of the party and donations from several well-known businessmen and companies, mostly related to the construction world. El País declared that this unofficial bookkeeping were kept by former treasurers Alvaro Lapuerta and Luis Bárcenas. Mr Bárcenas was forced to resign in 2009 following accusations of being part of another network of political corruption linked to the PP, knowns as the “Gürtel” affair from the surname of the main suspect, the businessman Francisco Correa (the German translation of correa is gürtel). The case was related to illegal payments and bribes to party officials from businessmen and builders. After the initial scandal and various processes, now the Gürtel affair is back on everyone’s lips.
The past January, 20th another well-known Spanish magazine, El Mundo, came out with breaking news in its first page: “Bárcenas paid extra money in black for years to part of the PP’s leadership.”
According to reports, the amount of black money, ranging between 5,000 and 15,000 euros per month, came from fees charged to construction and security companies after receiving public contracts, and anonymous donations. Some of the beneficiaries of this black payments were the same prime Minister, who would receive extra money equal to 25,200 euros a year from 1997 and 2008, and the party’s general secretary María Dolores de Cospedal. But it’s not all. In fact, El Mundo also referred to a Swiss bank account in the name of Barcenas that held as much as 22 million euros introduced by building construction companies.
Things get complicated and Barcenas’ papers seem to be the clear evidence of a long web of corruption that stains the Spanish political system for at least two decades.
While the leaders of the PP continue to deny any relationship with the documents in question, on the other side members of the opposition ask for the immediate resignation of the Prime Minister.
This news corruption case comes at a delicate moment for Spain. The austerity measures introduced by the government at the beginning of its mandate in 2011 to deal with the crisis put a strain on the citizens. These are the ones who have to face with a situation almost worse than that one of the last year.
The latest data published by the Labour Ministry reveal that employment has dropped over the past months to 263,243 jobs, while 132,055 people were added to the ranks of the unemployed, confirming the Spanish unemployment rate as the highest among European countries.
The trust of citizens in the political class touches lowest levels ever. The Centro de Investigaciones Sociologicas (CIS) published a survey that reported that the two main concerns of Spaniards are unemplyement and the general economic situation, and after that the political class, corruption and fraud. Results of a recent poll conducted by Metroscopia were not less worrying. According to it, the 96 percent of Spaniards believe that corruption is a widespread problem in politics.
From the past Thursday citizens took streets of different cities of Spain to protest against the scandal. The sound of screams against a “corrupt government” are everywhere. The popular protests is also widespread on the web. In several websites people have created petitions calling for the resignation of the PP’s leadership. On the website change.org the public petition reached 858,501 signatures in a couple of days.