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Is Spain’s Prime Minister the Global Left’s Great Survivor?

Pedro Sánchez has emerged from repeated crises stronger than ever.


On Wednesday, April 25, Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s prime minister, announced that he was considering resigning.

Sánchez, the Spanish head of government since 2018, said the reason behind this decision was that he was not sure whether it “was all worth it” because of the “media harassment” he had faced. The reason? His wife, Begoña Gómez, is being investigated by a Madrid court for traffic of influence.


Next Monday, Sánchez would triumphally announce he would continue serving as head of government.

No one really thought Sánchez would resign and call for early elections. Why did he do it then?

This theater was just one antic in Sanchez’s long list of political survival moves. This one, particularly, seemed like a bid for the legitimacy to move against the hostile press and a part of the Spanish judiciary. It also disclosed something important: Sanchez is perhaps the most astute political operator that the global left has in the Western world.

A Madrid judge answered a formal complaint against the Spanish first lady for traffic of influence by ordering an investigation against her.


Although no further details were given, Spanish media has time and time again published a long list of allegations against Gómez for leveraging her position as first lady to favor friends and projects she’s worked for with public money and government contracts.

For example, the businessman Carlos Barrabés received over €15.6 million in public contracts from six ministries after she provided him with a recommendation letter. El Debate alleged that the Sánchez administration gave €100,000 of public money to a population control project that Gómez herself is backed. The same outlet also published a report indicating that four Spanish ministries gave contracts to a consulting company where Gómez is a shareholder.

Some of these allegations are not new. In fact the GRECO (Group of States Against Corruption in English), a body dependent on the Council of Europe, recommended the Sánchez administration to make public the financial information of Gómez, which, according to a GRECO report, was ignored by Sánchez.

Sánchez went on the offensive, calling Manos Limpias, the organization that presented the complaint in Madrid, a “far-right organization” and the media giving raise to them as “with a marked right-wing and far-right bias” and of establishing a “harassment operation” against him, claiming that the “right and far-right did not accept the electoral result” (referring to the July 2023 elections). Sánchez’s party, PSOE, had come in second, but was able to form a minority government in coalition with Sumar, the heir party of the far-left Podemos, and the external support of a motley crew of far-left and nationalist parties in Catalonia and the Basque country.

No one really believed Sánchez would resign. Most supporters went along with the play, saying that Sánchez and his wife were a victim of lawfare and mediatic persecution, even if some of the information from which the complaints come from is publicly available.

Indeed, most people saw right through it—Sánchez was changing the focus of the conversation and making himself and his wife victims of persecution to further his political goals, as he usually does.

Sánchez has led PSOE, the historical leftist party of Spain since 2014, except for a brief period between 2016 and 2017.

At that point, Spain was in a political stalemate. After consecutive general elections that did not result in the formation of a government, Sánchez’s party split between two factions: one that supported allowing a minority government of the PP (the traditional center-right party in Spain) and other, supported by Sánchez, sought to form a coalition government with left-wing, nationalist and independentist parties even if it meant repeating elections once again.

On September 28 of 2016, 17 members of the board of the party resigned in protest against Sánchez, which led to Sánchez’s resignation a few days later; he said he would resign as a MP a month later. Sánchez was toast, many thought.

They were wrong.

In May 2017, he would win the election for leader of the PSOE and in May 2018, he would force a no-confidence vote against Mariano Rajoy, the sitting prime minister, which included his investiture in his place. The vote passed, and Sánchez became the head of Spain’s government on June 1, just a year and a half after many thought his political career had ended.

Nevertheless, less than a year after, Sánchez would have to call for elections again after the Spanish congress rejected his budget for 2019.

No party could form government after a general election in April 2019 but after a repeat election in November, Sánchez would be able to form a “Frankenstein” coalition with Podemos, a far-left party, as a coalition partner, along with some nationalist parties such as the Basque Nationalist Party, small far-left parties such as Más País, and the abstentions of Bildu, the heir of the terrorist group ETA, and Esquerra Republicana, an independentist far-left Catalan party. He had done it again.

But, as is usual in Spain, Sánchez’s unpopularity grew with time. His closeness to independentists, the controversial “ley solo sí es sí” (only yes means yes) policy that led to rapists getting out of jail quicker, his policy of “democratic” memory that led to the growth of the anti-Spanish black legend, his many economic mistakes, and an imprudent migration policy put a bullseye on him again. Again, as many times before, Sánchez seemed done.

He faced a formidable defeat in the regional elections in May 2023. Now he was done for good, many thought. There were general elections in December, and the pendulum swung badly against him. The Spanish left was panicking.

But Sánchez still had a card to play. He called an early election for July 23, 2023, quickly switching the focus of the conversation from his astounding defeat to a new election. It was a risky move, and everything pointed at PP winning.

Yet Sánchez pulled it off. Both the PP and Vox (the new right party in Spain) ran terrible campaigns and did not have time to settle a common message. Sánchez represented stability and a containment wall against the “far” right.

Even though PSOE came in second, the PP did not have enough support among minor parties to garner a coalition. It is PSOE the party that has sold Spain to nationalist and independentist parties in Catalonia and the Basque Country, and even given greater power to nationalist parties in regions such as Galicia, where nationalism was almost unheard of until recently. They all were rooting for Sánchez. He survived.

The main issue of Sánchez’s play is that it provided him with legitimacy at a point in which he is, once again, unpopular. He appears now to be planning a counter-offensive to limit freedom of the press and judiciary independence in Spain.

Sánchez has shown an almost obsessive fixation with attacking the press during his tenure, which has only increased with the allegations against his wife. His government created in 2019 a Permanent Commission Against Disinformation to “improve and increase transparency with regards to the origin of disinformation and the way it is produced and transmitted.” Just a day after Sánchez’s letter, Félix Bolaños, the Justice minister of Spain called the outlets publishing allegations against Gómez “pseudo-media” that are creating a “hoax ecosystem,” while Sánchez has referred these outlets in the past as the fachosfera, which is an invented term that could be translated into English as “fascist-sphere.”

Some local media have published that within PSOE they are discussing potential reforms to the press and the judiciary in the country, something that Sánchez himself has publicly threatened to do in recent interviews, without going into details.

Meanwhile, his party reactivated a “Committee Against the Right-Wing Disinformation,” that will ask media who publishes allegedly inaccurate information against Sánchez and his government to retract the information in 24 hours or face defamation lawsuits and, in fact, have already done so against the director of El Debate, which has revealed many of the scandals surrounding Sánchez’s administration.

Also, the General Council of the Judiciary is set to be renewed this year. The Council is the governing body of the judiciary, in charge of supervising the independence of the judicial power in Spain. Usually, a qualified majority is needed to renew the positions, something that Sánchez does not have. Nevertheless, Sánchez has said his party could change the majority needed to do so to a simple majority, which means he could pack the council, hindering the independence of the judicial power and even paving the way for further judicial reform.

Sánchez has dedicated his first few years of government to destroy Spain in his ruthless struggle for political survival by giving the country away to those who want to eliminate it the most. Now he seems hellbent to finish his cause by going on the offensive against anyone who does not hate his own country. The right should gird its loins. Sanchez has a habit of winning.