Spanish Socialist Party Faces New Corruption Scandal

Politics - March 2, 2024

New allegations of corruption have hit the ruling Socialist Party in Spain.

Current MP and former minister of Transportation, José Luis Ábalos is being ostracized by his own party.

The top party leadership, including the Deputy PM and Prime Minister Sánchez himself have publicly pushed Ábalos to resign as MP and leave the Socialist Party.

The opposition’s Partido Popular and VOX have also called for his resignation.

Ábalos, however—in clear defiance of his party—has remained in Congress, just not in the Socialist bloc.

He is now part of the “Mixed Group,” a parliamentary bloc that includes separatist parties.

Prime Minister Sánchez summoned the Socialist Party’s executive board this on Saturday, March 2 to deal with the Ábalos situation.

The former Socialist Minister is set to be expelled from the party, after insinuations from government spokesmen.

“I am not a minister,” said Ábalos in an interview a days after the prosecution’s lead was revealed.

“I am an MP and bear no responsibility on this matter…I have not profited  from this,” he added.

Ábalos’ former advisor, Koldo García, allegedly received commissions contracts during the COVID pandemic. Some of these contracts reportedly exceeded 50 million euros.

Spain’s National High Court points to García as one of the links between the Government and “inexperienced” masks providers.

The government provided these masks to the ministries of Transportation and the Interior, as well as the regional governments of the Canary and the Balearic Islands.

The prosecution says “Koldo García received a substantial increase in his patrimony” between 2020 and 2022.

This “does not match his income coming from his official activities.”

Koldo García, also a member of the Socialist Party, allegedly amassed 1.5 million euros in properties and other assets, including three flats in the Mediterranean city of Benidorm.

Ábalos’ is not being accused of any involvement. However, his proximity to Koldo García and the scale (and priority) of the contracts García managed, raises questions about his knowledge of the plot.

The regional government of the Autonomous Community of Madrid said it is “shameful some would profit” in Spain’s “worst moment.”

The Conservative VOX party (ECR) announced they would “support all judicial proceedings” to get to the bottom of this plot.

VOX also called for investigations to be launched in the Canary and Balearic Islands.

The current president of the Spanish Congress, Francina Armengol, was president of the Government of the Balearic Islands during the pandemic.

Armengol said she feels “disgusted that someone could have profited when people were dying.” She stressed all contracts during her administration of the Balearic government were “legal.”

The public backlash has forced the PSOE to create a special committee in Congress to clear out “the facts, responsibilities, and lessons” from the procurement of health related during the pandemic.

Salvador Illa, the current leader of the Socialist Party in Catalonia and Sánchez’s former Minister of Health—who oversaw the management of the pandemic—offered his full collaboration with all investigations pertaining to this case.

Meanwhile, Pedro Sánchez has left the country for a summit in Paris. Sánchez is not expected to attend the board meeting this Saturday. He will be in a Barcelona with the Kingg to open the Mobile World Congress.

Ábalos has always been a controversial public figure.

During his first days as Sánchez’s Transportation Minister, he met with Delcy Rodríguez, the vice president of Venezuela in the Madrid Barajas Airport. Rodríguez is not allowed to enter into the Schengen area.

Ábalos has also been heavily criticized by leftist parties. The Socialists’ former coalition party, PODEMOS, accused him of placating to the interest of real state and transportation companies.

Ábalos will remain in Congress for the time being. But the Socialist Party will have to deal with the consequences of this plot, just at the beginning of the term.