New information suggests Spain’s prime minister had far closer links to the man at the centre of a major financial scandal than he’s previously claimed.
El Mundo has published text messages of support sent by Mariano Rajoy to former People’s Party treasurer Luis Bárcenas:
“Luis, nothing is easy but we’ll do what we can. Courage.” said one message from 2012.
And when the slush fund scandal broke, Rajoy showed understanding: “Stay strong” he said, “I’ll call you tomorrow. Hug”.
Up until now, Rajoy has distanced himself from Bárcenas. These messages place him uncomfortably close and show he maintained a direct and permanent contact with the man who handled the party’s finances for nearly 20 years.
Bárcenas is being investigated for tax fraud, bribing public officials, money laundering, document forgery and fraud. He was recently found to have millions of euros stashed away in secret Swiss accounts.
The socialist opposition party have reacted by calling for Prime Minister Rajoy to step down.
The People’s Party vice chairman responded: “Neither the president nor PP’s Mariano Rajoy will ever yield to the blackmail attempt of a suspected criminal, whether that blackmail is done in public or private.”
Corruption has plagued the Spanish right for years. Spain is in the midst of an economic crisis. The question remains: Can the government survive a political scandal as well.