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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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