Saenz Says Rajoy Won’t Let Graft Allegations Distract Him

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy won’t allow corruption allegations to distract him from tackling Spain’s economic crisis, said his deputy, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.

Rajoy, in Brussels negotiating the European Union’s seven-year budget, will press on with his economic reforms even as the opposition Socialist party calls for his resignation over newspaper reports he accepted illegal cash payments, Saenz said.

“We have a government that is going ahead with its reform plans, that is passing laws and changing the country,” she said at a press conference in Madrid today. “That is the stability this government’s work is creating.”

Rajoy on Feb. 2 denied reports in El Pais newspaper that he received more than 250,000 euros ($335,000) over 11 years from a secret slush fund managed by the former treasurer of his governing People’s Party. Support for the PP dropped 6 percentage points from the previous month to 24 percent in a poll by Metroscopia published by El Pais on Feb. 3, wiping out the party’s advantage over the main opposition Socialists.

“Of course the government is worried,” Saenz said today. “The government is being very rigorous to improve transparency. I can guarantee you decisive measures will be taken to fight corruption.”

El Pais, Spain’s best-selling newspaper, reproduced on Jan. 31 what it said were extracts from handwritten ledgers by the ex-PP treasurer, Luis Barcenas, showing payments to party officials including Rajoy. Metroscopia interviewed 1,000 people between Jan. 30 and Feb. 1 and the margin of error was 3.2 percentage points.

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