Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez considers quitting after inquiry called into wife's dealings

Mr Sanchez says decision on stepping down will be announced next week

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his wife, Begona Gomez. Reuters
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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has suspended his public duties and will consider resigning after a court launched an inquiry into his wife's business dealings.

The shock announcement came after a Spanish court said earlier on Wednesday that it was launching a preliminary investigation into whether Mr Sanchez's wife, Begona Gomez, committed a crime of influence peddling and corruption in business dealings.

"I need to stop and think" to decide "whether I should continue to head the government or whether I should give up this honour," Mr Sanchez wrote in a letter posted on X.

He said he would announce his decision on Monday and suspend his schedule until then.

Mr Sanchez said the seriousness of the attacks against him and his wife merited a measured response.

He said his wife would co-operate with the investigation and defend her innocence.

“To summarise, this is an operation to harass me by land, sea and air to try and make me give up politics through a personal attack on my wife,” Mr Sanchez wrote.

Ms Gomez, 49, does not hold public office and maintains a low political profile.

Mr Sanchez has been one of Europe's most outspoken critics of the war in Gaza and has made recent efforts to gather a coalition that would pressure Israel to accept a two-state solution.

On Wednesday, he revealed he had spoken to UAE President Sheikh Mohamed about the coalition, and said he backed Palestine's entry as full member of the UN.

The court investigating Ms Gomez did not provide further details as the case is sealed and preliminary.

It only said it followed a complaint raised by anti-corruption campaign group Manos Limpias, or Clean Hands, whose leader has links to the far-right.

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

Mr Sanchez said opposition leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo of the People's Party and Santiago Abascal of the far-right Vox party had "collaborated" with those circulating the claims against his wife.

Manos Limpias describes itself as a union, but its main activity is a platform pursuing legal cases. Many have been linked to right-wing causes.

Justice Minister Felix Bolanos called the new allegations “false."

Second Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz, the leader of the junior member of Mr Sanchez’s government, publicly backed him against “this offensive by the right".

The possibility of a governmental crisis comes weeks before important regional elections in Catalonia, followed by European elections in June.

Updated: April 25, 2024, 8:24 AM