MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy apologized on Tuesday for the first time for corruption scandals affecting members of his ruling People’s Party and pledged to do more to clean up Spanish politics.
It was the first time the prime minister had explicitly apologized despite judicial investigations continuing against party members during the last three years since the PP won general elections.
“I apologize in the name of the PP to all Spaniards for having appointed people to positions who weren’t worthy of them and who seem to have taken advantage of them,” Rajoy told Spain’s upper parliamentary house, the Senate.
His apology came the day Angel Acebes, a former interior minister and secretary general of the PP, appeared in the High Court over allegations the PP ran a slushfund.
Rajoy was criticized for not quickly dismissing Luis Barcenas, a former PP treasurer who is being held in custody in relation to the slushfund allegations.
On Monday, 51 people were arrested over alleged backhanders to secure public contracts, including several PP mayors and Francisco Granados, a former conservative deputy president of the Madrid region who resigned in February after it was revealed he had millions of euros in a Swiss bank account.
Rajoy told senators his party had already introduced measures to tackle corruption and would introduce further legislation.
“We are going to continue increasing the range of anti-corruption measures until we ensure that anyone in a public post in this country thinks twice before being tempted to become corrupt,” said Rajoy.
Reporting By Sarah Morris; editing by Ralph Boulton