Spain's minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, has just been sanctioned by the National Stock Market Commission (CNMV) with a fine, the value of which hasn't been announced, for the sale of stocks in renewables firm Abengoa whilst he was a board member at the company and had access to privileged information. Borrell has defended himself as far as possible, but his responses don't settle the greatest doubt there is at this time: can someone remain in the cabinet when they have, allegedly, used privileged information in their own interest? Is this the real ethics standard for Pedro Sánchez's government?
It's true that a prime minister can shoulder a certain number of resignations, but Sánchez has already filled his quota, despite having spent so few months in the Moncloa palace, with the departures of Màxim Huerta (Culture) and Carmen Montón (Health). As such, he'll defend to the death his justice minister, Dolores Delgado, caught up in a dirty matter of recordings from her time as a prosecutor at the National Audience court. In them, Delgado appears with former police commissioner Villarejo, explaining that she'd seen Supreme Court judges and prosecutors with minors during a trip to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. There's no evidence that Delgado did anything at the time and now she's defending herself, describing the tape as blackmailing the state. But was it true or not the story she told? The minister, for the moment, is wrapping herself up in the flag and resisting the buffeting.
Minister Borrell, for his part, tells us that the shares belonged to a family member, that he was managing them and that he'll appeal. And, in case he lacks cover, he does what he knows best: attack independence supporters, something which has given him so great a return and allowed him to return to politics. The international press has already taken notice of the case and the Financial Times and Bloomberg, two media outlets with status internationally, see it as a new blow for Sánchez.
Too many murky matters weigh on Borrell for him to remain in office. He already had to resign as president of the European University Institute in Florence, in 2012, as he was a board member at Abengoa. A "procedural error," he said at the time. He shouldn't continue as a minister, but he will. The Sánchez standard is below minimal, but PP and Cs have decided to leave the centre to him and to compete for the far right. And that's too great a favour. At least, to remain afloat.