Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took observers by surprise after he made an unexpected admission of guilt over trusting his former party financial chief Luis Barcenas for so many years, branding his long-time friend a delinquent.
Mr Rajoy is mired in a controversy concerning former Popular Party treasurer Luis Barcenas, who has been jailed while under investigation about the party’s funding and having huge secret Swiss bank accounts.
The claims have sparked widespread anger and anti-government protests.
Rajoy told MPs in the Madrid parliament that justice must take its course, over the disgraced Barcenas. He added that he was confident that the courts will decide that neither he nor his party committed any crime.
“I was mistaken in trusting the wrong person. I didn’t cover up a guilty person. He tricked me, but it was easy because I don’t jump at condemning anyone,” Rajoy said in a speech. The PM had been forced to take action in order to stave off a no-confidence vote in his leadership after the opposition leader branded Rajoy a liar.
During his address Rajoy rebuffed the claims of any personal wrongdoing and to the ire of many of the gathered MPs began to distract attention away from the issue at hand, instead he went on to say that Spain is recovering from its year’s old economic crisis.
In response, the leader of the country’s main opposition Socialist Party, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, said Mr Rajoy was not in the chamber to debate the state of the Spanish economy. He added that Rajoys resistance to answering parliament’s questions was damaging Spain’s reputation and accused the rulling PP party of winning elections on the back of illegal financing.
Even if Mr Rajoy did not respect parliament, he said, “He should respect the intelligence of Spaniards”.
“You must go, Mr Rajoy,” he said.
With an overall majority in parliament, Rajoy’s People’s Party has 186 of the 350 seats in the lower house, the Congress of Deputies – he can live to fight another day. But the question marks over his survival remain.
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