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Divorce between José Luis Ábalos and the Spanish Socialists (PSOE). Yesterday, party headquarters gave 24 hours to the former minister of transport, mobility and urban agenda to resign his seat in the Congress of Deputies, arguing that, although he is not under investigation for the Koldo case, he has "political responsibility" and the decision of the former organizational secretary of the PSOE has been to move to the Spanish Congress's mixed group - accommodating small parties and independent MPs - to "defend himself at all levels" and "restore" his "honour" and his "reputation" as a parliamentary deputy and a person "till the final consequences". "If I resigned, it would be interpreted as a sign of guilt, which I do not assume, and would only cause my political and personal stigmatization", he maintained. Ábalos criticized that the party hierarchy has made an appeal to "supposed ethics" and yet, he says, it does not respond on "how this ethics would manifest itself in a later phase of reparations" following his "civil cancellation" and "public sacrifice" and he complained that he would have liked to "have had the benefit of comradeship". Moments after the public appearance of Ábalos, the PSOE announced that it is provisionally suspending him from party membership and opening a disciplinary file against him.

After the PSOE's request to the ex-minister due to the arrest of his former advisor Koldo García over a case of alleged corruption in mask purchases, Ábalos resigned yesterday as president of Congress's interior ministry committee, but he decided to declare himself in defiance of Pedro Sánchez and keep his seat. In a media appearance in Congress with massive media expectation but without questions, Ábalos defended his "honour" before "public opinion and the membership and voters of the PSOE" and acknowledged that he would have liked to do so with the support of the Socialist leadership, something which "has not been possible". Ábalos, who criticized the party for seeking to "pay tribute to the right" and rebuked the fact that a "contrived atmosphere" has been created to condemn him, said he was responding to the people who appreciate him, who have made "the plea for him to continue in the fight" and not give up. "I am not accused of anything, nor am I part of the ongoing investigation, nor do I have any illicit enrichment", he stressed.

Sources in the leadership of the Socialist parliamentary group acknowledge that there are times when politics is "unfair and cruel" and in which "very hard decisions have to be made". Likewise, they say that they are "pained" by Ábalos's decision and that they do not understand how he is "putting his foot in it" so much. The former minister, who left Pedro Sánchez's cabinet in July 2021, will share the mixed group with the four MPs of Podemos, who arrived after their divorce with Sumar, and the three parliamentarians who were initially part of it: Néstor Rego (from Galicia's BNG), Cristina Valido (from the Canarian Coalition) and Alberto Catalán (from Navarra's UPN).


José Luis Ábalos tells the media: "Given the need to defend myself and restore my honour, and not to compromise the Socialist group in parliament, I've decided to go to the mixed group, where I will go on defending the ideas that brought me into politics."

"I can't end my career as corrupt when I am innocent"

During his speech, Ábalos regretted that, in such a "murky scenario", it had not been possible to "establish a reflection" with the PSOE "in the interests of the acronym" and he asserted that the fact of continuing to be an MP is also the so that those who intend to "send him out the back door" have to look him "in the face". "I cannot end my political career and my career as a corrupt person when I am innocent", he concluded.

Regarding his management of the transport, mobility and urban agenda ministry during the pandemic, he insisted that he had limited himself to "obtaining protective equipment as quickly and as cheaply as possible" and, with the aim of "reducing costs, the possible commissions for intermediaries would be reduced". Ábalos also regretted that Koldo García's "alleged illicit enrichment by taking commissions" is "disappointing and loathsome", but he insisted that "justice will resolve it".


The PSOE pointed Ábalos to the door last Friday

The decision taken by the PSOE executive on Monday was the logical consequence of the statements made by Socialist leaders in the hours before that. On Monday morning, Jordi Hereu (industry and tourism minister) had recognized that "sometimes, one has to make the decision to give way" while José Luis Escrivá (digital transformation and public service minister) had affirmed that, if he were Ábalos, he would resign. Previously, the person who is number two in both the party and the Spanish government, María Jesús Montero, had also verbalized something similar: "I know what I would do and you know what I would do."

On Saturday, in an interview with El País, Ábalos did not close the door to submitting his resignation, but he made it clear that he would not do so at the behest of the opposition People's Party, but of the PSOE and maintained that he was not chained to his seat. A little later, Pedro Sánchez re-voiced his political commitment against corruption and stated, during the opening of the Socialist International in Madrid, that it is necessary to be "relentless" in the fight against corruption "wherever it comes from and whoever falls".