Spain’s Socialists accuse PM of offering to act as “Trump’s butler”

PSOE says Rajoy should firmly criticize US president rather than saying he will act as his interlocutor

Spain's largest opposition party, the Socialists (PSOE), on Wednesday criticized Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s telephone conversation with Donald Trump, saying the PM has offered himself “as a butler” to serve US interests in Europe and elsewhere. The main opposition group wants the conservative leader to provide details about the 15-minute conversation between the two men on Tuesday, and which Rajoy has simply described as “cordial.”

Mario Jiménez, spokesperson for the PSOE‘s management committee.
Mario Jiménez, spokesperson for the PSOE‘s management committee.Emilio Naranjo (EFE)
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Mario Jiménez: “Rajoy se ha ofrecido a Trump como una suerte de mayordomo”

The Socialist group is unhappy that Rajoy, of the conservative Popular Party (PP), apparently made no mention of Trump’s highly controversial executive orders regarding a border wall with Mexico and a travel ban on citizens from seven countries with majority Muslim populations , among other issues.

“The vast majority of Spaniards are incensed and angry that the prime minister of Spain did not demand, on similar terms as other European leaders, an end to the actions being carried out by the president of the United States, and which are affecting essential elements of international governance, as well as threatening relations with the European Union,” said Mario Jiménez, spokesman for the transitional team that is heading the PSOE following the resignation of its secretary general in October of last year.

Spaniards are ashamed to realize that their prime minister has offered himself as a butler of sorts

Mario Jiménez, PSOE official

“Spaniards are ashamed to realize that their prime minister has offered himself as a butler of sorts [to Donald Trump],” added Jiménez, alluding to Rajoy’s offer to mediate between the US and Europe, Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East.

The Socialists also warned that they would oppose a new Spain-US alignment in the same vein as the one that characterized relations between former US president George W. Bush and the Spanish leader at the time, José María Aznar. That relationship was best illustrated by a March 2003 meeting on the Portuguese islands of the Azores, where Aznar, Bush and Britain’s Tony Blair sent out an ultimatum to Iraq to disarm or face war. The ultimatum led to the invasion of Iraq, although no weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

Jiménez on Wednesday brought up that controversial summit, claiming that the Spanish government’s attitude towards the Trump administration harks back “to the worst images in the Azores, when Spain was submitting to another country’s interests.”

This March 2003 image was widely criticized in Spain.
This March 2003 image was widely criticized in Spain.Reuters

Back then, Rajoy was Aznar’s deputy prime minister and spokesman. The decision to go to war was widely opposed in Spain, where numerous protest marches took place.

The PSOE’s reaction to the telephone call is also a way to show its voters that it remains a vocal critic of Rajoy despite having helped him into office. The Socialists’ decision to abstain at a crucial congressional vote in order to end a protracted political deadlock in Spain – which was without a government for 10 months – created a major rift within the PSOE.

The party has yet to find a new secretary general after Pedro Sánchez resigned in protest over the issue of whether to help Rajoy into office.

English version by Susana Urra.

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