Socialist supporters call on Spanish prime minister to stay

By Thomson Reuters Apr 27, 2024 | 6:48 AM

By Elena Rodriguez

MADRID (Reuters) – Thousands of Socialist Party supporters travelled from across Spain for a rally at the party’s Madrid headquarters on Saturday to call on Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to stay on, after he stunned the country this week by saying he might quit the premiership.

Sanchez said on Wednesday he would step back “for a few days” to decide whether he wants to continue leading the government after a court launched a business corruption probe into his wife’s private dealings. He said this was part of a sustained campaign of slander against him and his family by political opponents.

Sanchez denies the allegations made against his wife, Begona Gomez, and said he will announce his decision on his future on Monday.

“Prime Minister, stay, Pedro, stay. We are with you,” Maria Jesus Montero, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasury Minister, told a meeting of the party’s federal committee.

Outside, euphoric supporters thronged the streets and played popular pop songs urging Sanchez to stay, with many waving flags or with their faces painted.

“I hope he continues, because Spain has to continue with him. If not, it scares me. We are afraid of what could come,” Leonor Romero, 56, a councillor from Huelva, southern Spain, told Reuters.

“He must continue. I think he is not going to resign. He will leave us orphans,” Jose Luis Trigo, 74, a pensioner, said.

Opposition parties have condemned Sanchez’s move.

“I ask all citizens not to be fooled. Spain does not have a problem, the one who has a judicial problem is Sánchez, his government, his party and his circle. Let them solve it,” Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, the leader of the opposition conservative People’s Party, told a meeting in Tarragona in Catalonia.

Madrid’s prosecuting authority said on Thursday it was appealing Wednesday’s decision by a city court to look into the private complaint laid by an activist group linked to the far-right against Gomez over alleged influence peddling and business corruption.

Sanchez came to power in 2018.

(Reporting by Belen Carreño, Graham Keeley, additional reporting Elena Rodriguez,Raul Cadenas, Juan Medina, Violeta Santos; Editing by Toby Chopra)