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CORRUPTION

PP blocks Socialist bid to have Rajoy grilled over Bárcenas case

Ruling party uses absolute majority to stop debate in Congress

PM’s salary revealed to have nearly doubled that of head of opposition

The ruling conservative Popular Party has used its absolute majority to block an initiative by the main opposition Socialist Party (PSOE) to have Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy questioned in parliament over the Bárcenas case.

The PP did not even allow the Socialists’ proposal to be debated in an extraordinary and hurriedly convened session of the congressional standing committee, although the issue was on the order of the day. The PP claimed that congressional regulations did not allow for Rajoy to be questioned in parliament in such a fashion at such short notice.

The Socialists have accused Rajoy of lying in parliament about his knowledge of, and involvement in, the dealings of the PP’s former treasurer, Luis Bárcenas, who is in preventive custody while an investigation proceeds into allegations that he kept secret ledgers detailing illegal donations made to the party by businessmen, and cash payments made to top party officials, including Rajoy.

The Socialist congressional spokeswoman, Soraya Rodríguez, said the decision not to allow the debate to go ahead had “crossed all the red lines.” She claimed that by accepting the PP’s arguments, congressional speaker Jesús Posada had caused Congress to lose its independence from the government, accusing him of “turning himself into the biggest defender of the administration.”

The Socialists immediately filed another petition for the government to appear urgently in Congress to “speak of the lies” it told about the Bárcenas case, and threatened to take the issue up with the Constitutional Court.

The Socialists and other congressional groups believe that the appearance Rajoy made in parliament earlier this month had failed to sufficiently clarify the prime minister’s relationship with Bárcenas.

Rajoy told Congress on August 1 that he had cut off all contact with Bárcenas when it emerged the former treasurer had deposited millions of euros in bank accounts in Switzerland. However, the prime minister sent a SMS message of encouragement to Bárcenas two days after the Swiss bank account news had emerged.

In a parallel development, the leader of the Socialists, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, on Tuesday made his tax declarations for the past 10 years public, showing he earned a great deal less than Rajoy.

In 2009, when Rubalcaba was interior minister, he declared an income of 88,096 euros, compared with 240,262 euros for Rajoy when he headed the PP in opposition. Over the 10 years, Rajoy declared 1.982 million euros, 1.1 million more than Rubalcaba.

In a tweet explaining the reason behind making his earnings public, Rubalcaba said: “I do not want PP leaders to continue using my tax declarations to divert attention away from the serious developments that have come to light in the past few months. The figures reveal the existence of a parallel accounting system by the PP and bonuses paid to leaders under the table, and, therefore, not declared to the tax office.”

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