The former treasurer of Spain’s governing Popular Party, attempting to get the Spanish to accept unprecedented austerity, has dragged his party into a corruption scandal.
Press reports accuse Luis Barcenas of collecting money from companies and distributing it to leading party members over 20 years.
The Popular Party is scrambling to react, and the opposition is baying for blood.
“You must know that this is a great party, that defends honesty and decency, and that this is a party where whoever commits a fault must pay for it,” said Secretary General Maria Dolores de Cospedal.
Current leader Mariano Rajoy ended the practice in 2009. Barcenas along with several unnamed other people was reported two days ago to hold a secret Swiss bank account worth 22 million euros.
“There have been many doubts regarding Rajoy´s management as President of the PP. If yesterday I asked Rajoy to explain to Spaniards what is happening, today I insist that he has to show up and react to this scandal,” said the Socialist’s leader, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.
Public confidence in politicians in Spain is at rock-bottom, and the news brought several hundred people out on the streets to protest in front of the PP’s headquarters in Madrid.