Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez to stay on as PM despite corruption probe linked to wife

Spain’s Pedro Sánchez has announced he will stay on in his role as prime minister of the country despite an investigation into corruption linked to his wife.

The nation’s premier said in a televised address that after reflection, he had decided to remain in his post and had informed King Felipe VI of his decision.

He said he had been encouraged to stay by widespread expressions of support over the weekend.

“I have decided to go on, if possible even stronger as prime minister”, he said, “This is not business as usual, things are going to be different.”

It comes after a Spanish court said last Wednesday it was launching a preliminary investigation into whether the Prime Minister’s wife, Begoña Gómez, committed the crime of influence peddling and corruption in her private dealings.

At the time, Mr Sánchez shocked the nation when he wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that he would announce on Monday whether he would continue to lead the country.

“I need to pause and think. I urgently need an answer to the question of whether it is worthwhile … whether I should continue to lead the government or renounce this honour,” he wrote.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has described the allegations as a “smear campaign” against his wife Begoña Gómez. (Photo: Emilio Morenatti/AP)

He described it as a “smear campaign” against his wife, saying the allegations were false and orchestrated by his conservative opponents.

The seriousness of the attacks that he and his wife were receiving from elements in the conservative right and far right deserved a measured response, he said.

The allegations stem from a complaint made by the anti-corruption group Manos Limpias – Clean Hands – whose leader has links to the far right.

Manos Limpias alleged that Ms Gómez used her influence as the wife of the Prime Minister to allegedly secure sponsors for a university master’s degree course that she ran.

The Madrid regional prosecutor’s office had recommended the allegations were thrown out.

No further details of the case have been revealed concerning the investigation as it is subject to a secrecy order, as is customary in Spain.

Mr Sanchez’s decision on Monday to remain in office draws a line under a week in which Spanish politics was thrown into turmoil by the prospect of another parliamentary vote to choose a new prime minister or even a fourth general election in five years.

The 52-year-old surprised his political colleagues and the country when he said on Wednesday he was taking several days away from public duty to consider quitting.

Socialist leaders and the leaders of other left-wing parties had urged Mr Sánchez not to resign.

There were large demonstrations from his followers across the country over the weekend.

Thousands of supporters and members of Spain’s Socialist Party rallied outside the party’s national headquarters in Madrid on Saturday to show their support for the prime minister and urge him not to step down.

Demonstrators in the streets of Madrid on Saturday shouted “You are not alone!” and waved party flags.

However, the right-of-centre opposition Popular Party said Mr Sánchez’s behaviour was a desperate attempt to draw attention away from his wife and to win support in upcoming regional and European elections.

Prime minister since 2018, Mr Sánchez has more than three years left of his term.

Last year, he called a snap election after performing poorly in local elections.

But when the opposition People’s Party won the most votes, he made a controversial deal to grant Catalan separatists an amnesty over the failed 2017 independence push in order to stay in power.

Ms Gómez, 49, is a businesswoman who does not hold public office and keeps a low political profile.