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Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez decides not to quit, after days of speculation


In Spain, people were glued to their smartphones, televisions and radios this morning. They were waiting for Europe's most prominent socialist leader to announce a decision about his own and his country's future.


Yeah, last Wednesday, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez published a letter where he made a surprise announcement. He was considering stepping down because of investigation into his wife, he said, was politically motivated. Today, Sanchez said he would stay on.

FADEL: NPR's Miguel Macias has been following the story from Seville. Hi, Miguel.


FADEL: So what did Sanchez say after so much speculation over the past few days?

MACIAS: Leila, I think it's safe to say that it was a crazy morning for anyone watching. Pedro Sanchez went mute for five days after he published the letter on social media on Wednesday. This morning, he gave a long introduction. It took him more than 5 minutes to communicate his decision. Let's hear it.


MACIAS: Sanchez came out swinging. He talked about democracy and how important it is for those who are elected to office to fight against the attacks of those who questioned the legitimacy of the prime minister, for example. He said that this is not a matter of ideology, but a matter of respect, dignity. He also thanked his supporters for the incredible show of support over the past few days. The left, and not just members of Sanchez's party, the socialists, but also other parties on the left have come together to practically beg Sanchez to not go.


BIZARRAP AND QUEVEDO: (Singing in Spanish).

MACIAS: That's sound from the more than 10,000 people that gathered at the socialist headquarters on Saturday singing very popular song, "Quedate," or "Stay." In other words, if Sanchez was the undisputed leader of the left in Spain before, now he's demonstrated the power that he has with his base.

FADEL: But how did we get here? I mean, there was this investigation into Sanchez's wife that triggered all of this.

MACIAS: Yes, the investigation is basically the straw that broke the camel's back for him. Sanchez said in his letter, I want to say that he and his wife have been targets of the campaign from the far right that amounts to harassment. The lawsuit that prompted the investigation into Sanchez's wife was filed by far-right organization based on news clips from media outlets, some of them known for publishing fake news. So it remains to be seen whether the investigation is going to go anywhere. Now Sanchez is known to be a survivor, to have a very thick skin. It almost seemed that the opponents had found his weakness - the well-being of his wife. But today Sanchez told the world that he doesn't have any weaknesses.

FADEL: Now, you mentioned the corruption allegations come from Sanchez's political opponents. How are they responding?

MACIAS: Well, we can say something for sure. The right is going to go into full attack mode. Over the past five days, they've accused Sanchez of being irresponsible. They also didn't trust that he was being genuine. Well, conservatives are gonna have a field day now. On the horizon, we have something very interesting coming up, which is the Catalonia elections on May 12. The socialists have a good chance to win. If they managed to block a coalition of separatists, they could put an end to the current push for independence in Catalonia.

FADEL: That's Miguel Macias in Seville, Spain. Thank you for your time.

MACIAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Miguel Macias is a Senior Producer at All Things Considered, where he is proud to work with a top-notch team to shape the content of the daily show.