• Resignation follows arrest of Aguirre’s former right-hand man in Madrid region
• Second high-level corruption probe in a week to rock Spain’s governing party
Esperanza Aguirre, a leading politician over the last three decades of the conservative governing Partido Popular (PP) and former president of the Madrid regional government, resigned yesterday from her current post as PP spokesperson in the municipal government of Madrid, following the arrest last week of the former number-two ranking official in the Madrid regional government on corruption charges during Aguirre’s time at the helm of the regional party.
Aguirre claimed in a press conference on Monday that she had been “misled” and “betrayed” by her former political confidant Ignacio González, who was among a dozen individuals arrested last week as part of a probe into corruption involving illegal financing of the PP through kickbacks over construction contracts related to the Madrid regional water utility Canal de Isabel II.
Aguirre’s resignation marks her second in the past 14 months. In February 2016, she reluctantly stepped down as leader of the PP in the city of Madrid following Civil Guard searches of PP headquarters as part of a investigation into illegal kickbacks to the local party in exchange for construction contracts linked to former Aguirre-confidant and PP official Francisco Granados, who has been serving jail time since 2014 on related charges.
The arrest of Gonzalez and resignation of Aguirre is the second high-profile corruption case to rock the conservative PP hierarchy in the past week, as last Tuesday Spain’s central High Court announced that Spanish President Mariano Rajoy would have to take the witness stand to testify directly in a separate ongoing corruption case over alleged kickbacks in exchange for public works contracts involving high-level former PP lawmakers and government officials.