Second ex-Andalusian premier set to leave politics over ERE case

Manuel Chaves to follow José Antonio Griñán in move demanded by opposition parties

José Antonio Griñán (left) and Manuel Chaves are both leaving politics just months apart.
José Antonio Griñán (left) and Manuel Chaves are both leaving politics just months apart.Alejandro Ruesga

Manuel Chaves, a former Andalusian premier and a Socialist deputy in Congress, will leave politics in seven months after this fall’s general election.

Sources within the Socialist Party confirmed that the 69-year-old, a veteran figure of Spanish politics, will follow José Antonio Griñán, who succeeded him at the helm of the Andalusian government and recently announced his decision to abandon public service.

Chaves has told the Supreme Court that he was not aware of any corruption scheme occurring during his administration

Both men are caught up in the ERE case, a major investigation into the mis-allocation of as much as €855 million in public funds meant for struggling businesses in the southern region.

Earlier this month, Griñán and Chaves took turns testifying before the Supreme Court in connection with the case. Chaves, who served as regional leader from 1990 to 2009, claimed that he was not aware of any corruption scheme occurring during his administration, and that “no illegal decisions were adopted” by his government team.

While no formal charges have been filed against either one, opposition parties in the Andalusian government that emerged from the March 22 regional election have been demanding their departure from politics.

Emerging anti-establishment parties Podemos and Ciudadanos, in particular, have made it a condition for supporting the investiture of premier-elect Susana Díaz, also of the Socialist Party.

More information

Chaves himself has not yet made any official statements. “When I make a decision, I will communicate it,” he told EL PAÍS on Thursday. But party sources confirmed that while nobody has asked him to give up his seat, his name will not be on any new electoral list when his term ends.

There is still a chance, however, that Chaves may be unable to serve out the remainder of his time in Congress if the Supreme Court decides to press formal charges against him in the ERE case. In that event, the party would ask him to resign his seat, the same sources confirmed.