Spanish prime minister wants less judicial protection for MPs

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at the Moncloa Presidential Palace in Madrid, Spain, 18 September 2018. EPA-EFE/RODRIGO JIMENEZ

Spanish prime minister wants less judicial protection for MPs


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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez proposes a reform that will reduce personal legal protection for parliamentarians.

Addressing a conference in Madrid, the Socialist prime minister said on Monday that wanted to re-engage Spaniards in politics, sending a message of “solidarity and empathy.” The proposal comes in the context of a major corruption scandal that led to the fall of Mariano Rajoy’s government in June, as the Popular Party was embroiled in the long-running corruption case known as Gürtel.

Sanchez does not propose limiting parliamentary immunity, linked to prosecution for actions taken while in office. Instead, the Socialist Prime Minister wants to make it easier for prosecutors to charge politicians and public officials in cases that are of a private nature, such as drunk-driving, tax evasion and money laundering, corruption, and plagiarism.

Besides corruption, this would also make it easier for authorities to press charges against members of parliament and the government for cases relating to an unfolding scandal of false academic diplomas. The scandal linked to Madrid’s Juan Carlos University has embroiled a number of high-ranking members of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP).

Last week, Sánchez accepted the resignation of his health minister, Carmen Montón, who is accused of plagiarizing her master’s degree thesis.. Sanchez was also embroiled in the scandal, accused by the opposition that he plagiarised his doctoral thesis;  following the publication of his thesis, there has been no evidence to substantiate these allegations.

The Spanish prime minister cannot alone impose such a reform. Changing rules on the legal protection granted to political office would require an absolute majority in the Senate and two-thirds of the votes in Congress. That means consensus, which is hard to secure for a minority government.

 

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