Pedro Sanchez stays on as Spain’s prime minister after weighing exit

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Pedro Sanchez stays on as Spain’s prime minister after weighing exit

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU | AFP | Getty Images

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday he had decided to continue in office, days after abruptly announcing he was considering his future following the launch of a corruption investigation against his wife.

The centre-left prime minister, 52, had surprised foes and allies alike when he said on Wednesday he was taking time from public duty to consider quitting. He described the court investigation of his wife Begona Gomez for influence peddling and business corruption as orchestrated by his opponents.

Sanchez met King Felipe VI on Monday – a step that would have been necessary should he have decided to resign – but announced in a televised address that he had informed the monarch of his decision to stay on. He had been encouraged to stay by widespread expressions of support over the weekend, Sanchez said.

“I have decided to go on, if possible even stronger as prime minister. This is not business as usual, things are going to be different,” he said in a national broadcast.

His announcement that he might quit had caused further turmoil in Spanish politics, where a fractious parliament has struggled to form coalition governments after close elections. Should a new election have been required, it would have been the fourth in five years.

The opposition will try to exploit the sign of indecision from Sanchez, but the impact may be limited because Spain’s political landscape is already so polarised, said Ignacio Jurado, political science professor at Madrid’s Carlos III University.

“His credibility is already hotly contested and voters have already given it to him or taken it away,” he said. “As a leader he has shown a weakness and it’s something that the opposition will exploit a lot.”

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