Spain’s beleaguered Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will face the press later today during a visit by his Polish counterpart. It will be the first time journalists will get the chance to question him over some controversial text messages.
Until now Rajoy has been trying to distance himself from Luis Barcenas – the ruling party’s disgraced ex-treasurer who is accused of managing a slush fund and is facing charges of tax fraud, and bribery.
But over the weekend the Spanish newspaper El Mundo published supportive text messages Rajoy sent to Barcenas when the scandal broke suggesting the two were more closely linked than Rajoy has admitted.
Barcenas is due in court again today. Last week he handed over what he claimed was a ledger detailing illegal payments to party officials including Rajoy.
Although Rajoy denies receiving any money, the leader of the opposition Socialist Party, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, has called on him to step down:
“It is clear that we are in an unbearable situation. Right now the prime minister is damaging Spain’s image and the country’s democratic institutions. And that’s why I think that frankly he has to leave.”
The scandal has angered Spaniards who have read about millions of euros allegedly exchanging hands while they are having to suffer swinging cuts as part of the government’s austerity measures.
Although some want Rajoy to quit, so far he appears to be riding out the storm.