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Spain’s Premier Contemplates Resignation Amid Probe Into Wife’s Affairs

In an unprecedented move, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday declared his intention to momentarily step back from his official duties. This pause comes ahead of a critical decision that Sanchez is set to make — whether to remain at the helm of the Spanish government or to relinquish his position following a legal inquiry involving his wife. Sanchez has stated that he will make his definitive decision public on Monday, April 29.

The contemplation process was sparked by a confirmation from a Spanish court on the same day, indicating that it has initiated a preliminary investigation into allegations of influence peddling and business corruption against Sanchez’s wife, Begona Gomez. This probe follows a complaint by the anti-graft organization Manos Limpias, or Clean Hands, which is noted for its far-right associations. Specific details of the case remain under wraps due to the ongoing and delicate nature of the investigation.

The group, Manos Limpias, accuses Gomez of leveraging her status as the prime minister’s spouse to attract sponsors for a university master’s degree program she managed. They bring forth these accusations through a unique Spanish legal device termed “people’s accusation,” allowing regular citizens to file criminal complaints. Such complaints are subject to judicial discretion regarding whether they will proceed to the investigation stage. Consequently, not all accusations translate into an official inquiry.

According to reports from multiple news sources, the directors of two internet news platforms that initially reported the allegations will be appearing as witnesses in the case. They are among the central communicators who have propagated claims about Gomez’s supposed misconduct.

It has been claimed by Manos Limpias, citing reports from these online newspapers, that Gomez purportedly accepted favors from the airline Air Europa and its parent company, Globalia, while she was the director of an African research center at the IE business school in Madrid until 2022. This detail emerged through a shared legal complaint dossier on Cadena Ser radio station’s website. IE Business School, however, has counteracted this claim by asserting that it never received any sponsorship from Globalia or its associated entities.

Earlier, after the COVID-19 pandemic ground the travel industry to a halt, there was a complaint by the opposition People’s Party suggesting a possible conflict of interest. It pointed to the government’s financial aid to Air Europa and alleged a link to the “economic and professional ties” of Sanchez’s wife. Both Globalia and Air Europa released a joint statement in March, vehemently denying these associations. They claimed that the bailout met the standards of assistance given to others in the industry across Spain and Europe, and they regarded themselves as caught in the “political crossfire.”

Prime Minister Sanchez has vehemently defended his wife, asserting that she has not engaged in any illegal activities and that these attacks are intended to weaken him “politically and personally.” He emphasized that Gomez is set to defend her honor and will be cooperating fully with the legal proceedings.

Spain is no stranger to allegations of corruption entangling politicians from various political factions, family members, and associates, some of which have culminated in high-profile convictions. This milieu of impropriety is one that Sanchez himself rose above in 2018 when he came to power after a corruption scandal toppled the then-conservative government. Presently, numerous parliamentary commissions are dissecting public contracts for pandemic-related health supplies. In one prominent situation, Jose Luis Abalos, former Spanish Transport Minister and member of Sanchez’s own PSOE party, faced pressure to resign from his legislative post due to his aide being implicated in a bribery scandal concerning COVID mask contracts.

Apart from these cases, Madrid’s conservative regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso finds herself in the thick of controversy over alleged tax fraud involving her boyfriend, whom she staunchly defends.

As this political drama unfolds, Sanchez’s looming decision remains a cornerstone for the trajectory of Spanish politics, hinging on the outcome of a confidential investigation.