POLITICAL CORRUPTION

Socialists begin attempt to have PM admonished for Bárcenas case "lies"

Popular Party expected to make use of majority to block moves to force Rajoy to face new questions

The main opposition Socialist Party (PSOE) will attempt on Tuesday to pass the first parliamentary hurdle in its bid to have Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy officially admonished for what it claims were the lies he told in Congress earlier this month about the so-called Bárcenas case.

In an unprecedented move, the congressional standing committee on Tuesday is due to debate whether to call an extraordinary full session of the Spanish lower house to allow the Socialists to question Rajoy on his knowledge of the events involving the ruling Popular Party's former treasurer, Luis Bárcenas, who is currently in jail as a High Court judge pursues his investigation into the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts case, an offshoot of which involves Bárcenas' activities.

Bárcenas kept secret ledgers detailing illegal donations paid to the PP by businessmen and cash payments made to top members of the party - including Rajoy himself, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Since the PP has an absolute majority in parliament, the prospects of the Socialists' bid to have Rajoy hauled over the coals are very much up in the air, if not non-existent. With the obvious exception of the PP, the rest of the parties in Congress are also pushing Rajoy to be more expansive in his explanation of Bárcenas' allegations. However, the standing committee could throw out the Socialists' request, thus avoiding a debate.

There has been talk of a Cabinet reshuffle in the wake of the scandal but the PP's number three, Carlos Floriano, on Tuesday ruled out a "dramatic" makeover of the government's ministers.

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