Interior minister appears on leaked recording allegedly plotting to smear independence leaders · Spanish president Rajoy urged to resign · Spain heads to polls on Sunday 26th
Fernández Díaz (left) and Rajoy (right). Author: Cambrabcn (esquerra) i Manulqsa (dreta).
The last days of the Spanish legislative election campaign has been unexpectedly shaken as the Spanish president Mariano Rajoy and his Interior minister Jorge Fernández Díaz (PP, conservatives) have found themselves implicated in an alleged plot to smear leaders of Catalan pro-independence parties and civil society groups. Another revelation came to be known today, this time implicating the Spanish Police. Pressure is mounting against PP only three days before voters go to the polls.
According to a revelation by the Cadena SER radio station, National Police secret reports were written in 2013 seeking to criminalize Carme Forcadell, then-leader of the main Catalan pro-independence association (ANC) and now president of the Catalan Parliament. According to that information, her and her family's bank accounts and properties were investigated as part of an action targeting the Catalan independence civil society movement.
The National Police directly reports to the ministry of Interior. The acting minister is Jorge Fernández Díaz, who appears on a leaked 2014 tape recording, published earlier this week by Spanish online news site Público, allegedly conspiring with Catalan anti-fraud office director Daniel de Alfonso to seek potential evidence of corruption against the two main Catalan pro-independence parties CDC and ERC.
Both men appear discussing details on possible fraud allegations against ERC leader and current Catalan Economy minister Oriol Junqueras's brother. In another extract, Fernández Díaz suggests involving former CDC ministers Felip Puig and Francesc Homs in some corruption scandal.
The recordings suggest no proof or evidence is found against ERC or CDC leaders.
The conversation was held little before the Catalan government sponsored a non-binding referendum on Catalonia's independence from Spain, on 9 November 2014. 81% of voters supported independence, with a turnout of 38%.
Rajoy in the eye of the storm
Spanish president Mariano Rajoy has denied he had any information on the scandal, and has insisted that Fernández Díaz did nothing wrong in seeking dirt on the Catalan pro-independence parties. But in the recordings, the Interior minister can be heard telling Daniel de Alfonso that Rajoy himself is aware of the case.
Immediately after the recordings came to be known, all Catalan and Spanish parties -except for PP- and Catalan president Carles Puigdemont (CDC, liberal) called on the minister to resign. Puigdemont said "now it is clear that there has been a strategy of a dirty war" against the Catalan pro-independence movement.
But Fernández Díaz replied that it is he who is the victim of a conspiracy, as he has been recorded without his consent. The minister said he will not resign.
Anyway, after the June 26 election both Rajoy and Fernández Díaz could see themselves forced out of the Spanish government as their Popular Party is polling slightly below 30%, and all other parties have insisted they will not form a government with Rajoy in it. It remains to be seen if the conspiracy scandal will have an effect, denying the PP further support on Sunday.
Pro-independence parties demand voters' support against "dirty war"
Both ERC and CDC have issued calls for voters to support them on Sunday as a way to opposing the Interior ministry's "dirty war" against the Catalan pro-independence movement.
"The [Spanish] state has moved heaven and earth and has found nothing [against us], and that's why they have decided to invent, to create, to fabricate, to lie," ERC leader Junqueras has said. "Victory is no longer a matter of a political option, but what is now at stake is the victory of democracy."
CDC candidate Francesc Homs said Catalans "will never surrender to the laws of an empire that behaves as a banana republic."
Some 500 people yesterday gathered at the Spanish government's delegation headquarters in Barcelona calling on Fernández Díaz to resign and chanting slogans for independence.