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Unacceptable impasse

Rajoy’s refusal to explain the Bárcenas case throws the government’s authority into question

The Popular Party’s use of its absolute majority to prevent Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy from addressing Congress on the issue of Luis Bárcenas before September is an unacceptable decision, based on arguments that the former party treasurer offers nothing but lies.

Until now, nobody has stuck their neck out for Bárcenas except for the ruling party, which was still defending him not so long ago. The use of its absolute majority to prevent Rajoy from providing explanations does not solve anything, while being the surest way to feed speculation that the prime minister is being blackmailed and does not know how to get out of his predicament.

Rajoy has yet to provide any explanations in parliament regarding the allegations of illegal party financing by the PP, as reflected in Bárcenas’ secret handwritten accounts. It therefore makes no sense to claim that he has already explained himself in order to justify not doing so now.

After this newspaper started publishing excerpts from those ledgers on January 31, Rajoy simply denied having ever received or handed out cash-filled envelopes, and this statement was made at a meeting of PP officials. Nor is he ready to explain himself in public now that Bárcenas is threatening to up the ante, despite all the petitions from opposition parties.

There was absolutely no call for the argument used on Thursday by the PP’s congressional spokesman, Alfonso Alonso when he accused the opposition of becoming “the defense lawyers for an individual who no longer had anybody to defend him” and of “sponsoring” a criminal, who by the way received a handsome salary from the PP up until January 31. There is clearly too much nervousness within the party, although the worst part is the sense of powerlessness conveyed by the PP leadership.

The incident also marks a break in the relative consensus that had been lately achieved by the main groups in parliament over certain key issues. Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, head of the main opposition Socialist Party, on Thursday questioned the leadership of a government head who, unlike his European counterparts, shies away from parliament no matter how serious the claims against his party or himself.

Rubalcaba is right to point out that other democratic countries work differently, as shown by the resignation of German President Christian Wulff in 2012 for less serious allegations than those suggested by the Bárcenas case, or by the early elections called in Luxembourg by Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker due to irregular behavior by the secret services.

In the light of what has happened here in Spain, it makes sense that some minority groups in parliament have bowed out of the parliamentary committee in charge of the Transparency Law, including the Socialists and United Left.

While it is true that the empty chair technique should not be abused, especially when it comes to a piece of legislation that could help regenerate public morality, it is just as true that the PP’s sincerity on this issue and its authority to lead the project are now under question.

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