News / Europe

Spain PM Resists Calls for His Resignation

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (L) reacts to a question from a reporter as he leaves after a session at the Senate in Madrid, Aug. 1, 2013.
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (L) reacts to a question from a reporter as he leaves after a session at the Senate in Madrid, Aug. 1, 2013.
Selah Hennessy
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy admitted Thursday that he has made "mistakes" related to a corruption scandal engulfing his party, but he faced down calls for his resignation. Analysts say Rajoy is betting that the economy will save his political career - as Spain, like other euro countries, finally see a slow move toward economic recovery.

A number of top members of Spain’s governing Popular Party are accused of taking under-the-table payments over the course of almost two decades. Rajoy is one of the alleged recipients.

Luis Barcenas, the party’s longtime treasurer until 2009, said a construction magnate gave him cash donations, which he then distributed to senior Popular Party figures.

Rajoy and other members of his party say the claims are false.

But speaking before parliament on Thursday, the prime minister said he had made one mistake.

"I am sorry,” he said, “But that's the way it is. I was wrong in trusting someone we now know didn't deserve it."

Economic defense

But Rajoy said he has no plans to resign, as the main opposition has demanded. Instead, he drew attention to Spain’s economy, which is showing signs of a slow recovery.

Ramon Pacheco Pardo from the European and International Studies department at King’s College London said Rajoy is likely to continue with that line of defense.

“I think that the message that is going to come from the government and from the prime minister is that the important thing is economic growth: economic growth is probably coming back, so the population should focus on their own pockets rather than on a scandal,” said Pardo.

Spain’s unemployment rate recently dropped from around 27 percent to 26 percent, the biggest improvement in five years. But with more than one-quarter of the population still out of work, the numbers may not be too cheering, says Pardo.

And as the country struggles through crippling economic troubles and widespread unemployment, allegations that governing party members have received tax-free payments has hit a raw nerve.

“We have a recovery but in any case it is not very quick, it has been quite a slow recovery. But also, even though there is a recovery, this has not reached the general population, so the feeling among workers and job seekers is that the situation has not improved yet or is not improving,” he said.

Jobs remain scarce

Pardo said on a macro level, the economy of the eurozone appears to be improving, albeit slowly.
 
Manufacturing activity is on the rise and in some countries, including Spain, exports are growing.

A worldwide survey of manufacturers published on Thursday showed industrial activity has risen in the eurozone for the first time in two years.

But Pardo said those macro level improvements have hardly been felt on the micro level.

Christian Schweiger, a Europe expert at Durham University, said that until Europeans have jobs, European governments will find it hard to convince their electorates that things are looking up.

In some eurozone countries, youth unemployment is about 40 percent.

“These young people, they find no jobs at home. And they are struggling to find jobs abroad," said Schweiger. "Because more and more of them are looking towards countries like Germany and the UK, and these countries are reluctant to accept the flood of migrant workers coming into their countries.”

He said governments should expect widespread protests emerging if the job market does not turn around.
 
Rajoy’s Popular Party has a strong majority in parliament, having won a clear victory in the 2011 vote.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More