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POLITICS

Madrid Socialist chief Tomás Gómez comes out fighting after party sacking

Former Parla mayor has been expelled for his role in an over-budget transport project “This has only just begun,” the politician tells reporters on Wednesday

Tomás Gómez (l) is greeted at Wednesday’s press conference by the Socialists’ candidate for Madrid mayor, Antonio Miguel Carmona.
Tomás Gómez (l) is greeted at Wednesday’s press conference by the Socialists’ candidate for Madrid mayor, Antonio Miguel Carmona.Ballesteros (EFE)

Just hours after Spain’s Socialist Party (PSOE) announced it would be expelling its Madrid chief Tomás Gómez, the politician held a defiant press conference on Wednesday, announcing that he would take his fight against the national leadership to the courts if necessary.

“I am going to defend my honor before the party,” Gómez told reporters. “This has only just begun.”

On Wednesday morning the leaders of the PSOE took everyone by surprise by announcing that Gómez would be moved aside from his role as head of the Madrid Socialist Party (PSM), a federal branch of the PSOE that covers the Madrid region. Gómez has long been plagued by accusations of misconduct relating to a tram project he oversaw in the satellite town of Parla while he was mayor there. The project overran its budget by €41 million, and investigators are looking into possible ties between local politicians, technicians and the companies that operate the service. It is these accusations that prompted the PSOE, which faces regional, municipal and general elections this year, to take action.

Pedro Sánchez has joined the right-wing in its efforts to wear me down in an attempt to strengthen his power”

“In keeping with the weakness of his leadership, Pedro Sánchez has joined the right-wing in its efforts to wear me down in an attempt to strengthen his internal power,” Gómez said, in reference to the PSOE leader. Gómez, who supported Sánchez in the race to become secretary general of the party, added that he trusted that PSOE leaders “would correct their huge error.” He also didn’t rule out taking the fight to the courts. “This is far from being over,” he stated.

“I have known [Sánchez] for a long time, because I contributed to helping him to his position of secretary general,” Gómez continued. “This is a huge mistake with disastrous consequences for our party, and all of the upcoming electoral processes. He is trying to stain my honor, and that is untouchable. My mother is a cleaner and my father is a taxi driver, and they showed me how to be honorable, brave and defend myself when attacked. That is what I am going to do. I am going to defend democracy and this federation, and my honor, if it is necessary, in the courts.”

Gómez explained that he had not gone to a meeting at PSOE headquarters on Ferraz street in Madrid, where the party’s lack of confidence was due to be communicated to him. During the press conference he held just two hours after the announcement on Wednesday morning, he repeatedly complained that he had found out about Sánchez’s decision via the press.

During his appearance before the media, Gómez was flanked by more than 50 councilors, regional deputies and Socialist leaders, including Antonio Miguel Carmona, who is due to run as the party’s candidate for Madrid mayor.

My mother is a cleaner and my father is a taxi driver, and they showed me how to be honorable, brave and defend myself when attacked”

The PSOE also announced on Wednesday that it would be dissolving the regional party leadership entirely, and putting in place an interim committee to be headed by Rafael Simancas, Gómez’s predecessor in the PSM. Also speaking at the press conference on Wednesday was PSM organization secretary Maru Menéndez, who described the appointment of Simancas as “illegitimate.”

“In the PSOE the secretary general is not in charge,” Menéndez continued. “We democratically choose our political leaders. I don’t believe that we made an error supporting Pedro Sánchez, but Pedro Sánchez has made a massive error in his attempt to control the federations.”

Even though the Parla tram case is still at the investigation stage, the Socialist Party is making efforts to show voters that it will not tolerate corruption in its ranks, with local, regional and general elections coming up this year. Both the PSOE and the ruling Popular Party (PP) are struggling to contain the rapid rise of anti-austerity party Podemos, which portrays both main political forces as corrupt and self-serving.

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