Thousands of angry Spaniards took the streets of Madrid on Thursday night to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as Spain’s corruption scandal enraged citizens suffering under the governments harsh austerity measures.
What started as a peaceful demonstration turned violent after riot police clashed with the protestors, resulting in injuries on both sides and several arrests. The protestors marched towards the Madrid headquarters of the ruling Popular Party closing off roads as they went. They demanded that Rajoy resigns due to allegations that he received payoffs from an illegal slush fund before his party won the 2011 elections. Demonstrations also took place in Barcelona.
14 people were wounded including 7 police officers.
The corruption scandal comes during Spain’s worst economic crisis in decades and has led to many Spaniards struggling to survive as unemployment remains at record highs and tax hikes hammer their spending power.
Luis Barcenas, the PP’s former treasurer is in custody and facing trial for tax fraud and corruption. He says that he made numerous payments-in cash- to Mr Rajoy and other senior party members out of a fund comprised of illegal donations made by businesses.
Mr Rajoy and other PP members have repeatedly denied that they received illegal payments. The tensions were renewed after it was revealed that Rajoy had sent text messages to Barcena’s offering his support.
The prime minister has accused Mr Barcenas of blackmail.
Main opposition Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and United Left (IU) Party released statements requesting Rajoy to either explain the facts to the press or to leave power. Rajoy is refusing to resign.
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