Just days before Spain will hold its second election in six months, acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy finds himself involved in the middle of a scandal.
Rajoy was implicated Wednesday in an alleged smear campaign after taped conversations from two years ago appeared to show his interior minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz asking a top anti-fraud official for information on how to discredit political rivals Bloomberg reports. Diaz said that the recordings had been taken out of context, and denies any wrongdoing.
Spain’s acting interior minister, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, is facing calls to resign after a series of leaked recordings showed him asking a top anti-fraud official for information to discredit political rivals in Catalonia.
The audio files published by Publico news site as Spaniards gear up for a general election on Sunday appear to show Fernandez Diaz quizzing the head of the Catalan anti-fraud agency for evidence of corruption involving the region’s two main political parties, Convergencia and the Catalan Republican Left, as well as any other details that could damage their leaders. The conversation, according to Publico, was taped back in 2014 when the region held a disputed referendum on independence from Spain.
Fernandez Diaz, who’s running on the incumbent People’s Party ticket for Barcelona, denied any wrongdoing in an interview with Cadena Cope radio. He said the recordings had been taken out of context to damage the government’s reputation ahead of the June 26 ballot and it was “offensive” to think a minister would order officials to concoct evidence for political motives.
Rajoy said that Diaz had given a "clear" explanation and did not need to resign - "As we're four days before the end of the campaign, someone is trying to take advantage and fish in troubled waters to see what comes out" Rajoy said, adding that his government has never used or leaked investigations into possible criminal activity to hurt rivals.
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PP leader Mariano Rajoy is already fending off corruption scandals, and this recent development could potentially play a role in how the country votes as voters head to the polls on Sunday to try and elect a government.
A quick recap of the Spanish elections can be found here.