Spain opposition leader resigns over espionage and face mask deal

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face mask scandal

MADRID – Pablo Casado, leader of opposition people’s party Partido Popular, resigns in connection with the scandal surrounding a face mask deal. Reportedly, the brother of the popular Madrid regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, also PP, received tons of commission for this deal.

At the time of the deal, in the early days of the corona pandemic, protective equipment was still scarce. The lucky one to close the face mask deal was the company of a childhood friend from the village where the Ayuso family used to spend their summers.

In addition to an official internal investigation into the deal, Pablo Casado is said to have secretly ordered people within the PP to hire a private investigator to find evidence for the face mask deal and the commission collected by Ayuso’s brother.

Ayuso and Casado are engaged in an internal battle for party leadership. In addition to Pablo Casado, the party’s number 2, general secretary Teodoro García Egea, also belongs to the party’s top. He said the PP top will officially reprimand Ayuso ‘because they don’t tolerate infidelity within the Partido Popular’.

According to Ayuso, her brother would have received much less than 285,000 euros in commission. Moreover, the deal was closed in a completely legal manner. “I may have made mistakes, but I’ve never committed any illegal acts,” Ayuso said.

Pablo Casado and Teodoro García Egea denied having ordered espionage. Ayuso then took on the role of victim and accused her party leadership of “cruel treatment” towards her. She insinuated that they are out to destroy her popularity as an internal challenger.

Ayuso beloved in Madrid

That popularity has risen to unprecedented heights since the corona pandemic. Ayuso took some popular measures and partly did not follow the national corona restrictions. Therewith, she put Madrid on the map as a ‘free region’, where hospitality could remain open and citizens were less restricted.

Casado and Ayuso make peace

Spanish media wrote on Wednesday that Casado and Ayuso met secretly last Saturday and made peace. During that appointment, Casado supposedly dropped his accusations against Ayuso. Moreover, Ayuso stated there was no question of espionage against her.

Pablo Casado resigns over espionage and face mask deal

Until Casado decided on Wednesday to resign immediately due to lack of support within his party for his role in the controversy. A manager within the aprty will take over his duties until the extraordinary party congress on April 2 and 3. That changed on Thursday morning after consultation with the party leadership. They decided Casado would remain in office until the congress, but would no longer stand for election there.

Successor Nuñez Feijóo

Likely, Alberto Nuñez Feijóo will eventually take over Casado’s position as party leader. Feijóo is the current president of the autonomous community of Galicia. It would have been more logical if the choice had fallen on Teodoro García Egea as PP’s number 2. However, he conspired with Pablo Casado in the espionage scandal. Therefore, the PP party leadership does not consider the important role suitable for him.  

Elections in Castilla y Leon

The duo of Casado and García Egea were under critisism within the PP since the early elections in Castilla y León. There they wanted to gain an absolute majority. The PP won those elections on February 13, but the party needed support to rule. The far-right Vox party was the only one able to give the support needed. Before the support came from the moderate right-wing Ciudadanos. As a result, for the first time in it’s existence, Vox is entering a government of an autonomous community.

The Popular Party writes in a statement on Thursday: The President of the People’s Party, Pablo Casado, has today transferred his decision to the autonomous presidents of this formation not to attend the next National Congress, which will be convened in the Governing Council to be held next Tuesday, March 1.

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