Mariano Rajoy, a major figure of Spanish politics over the past 14 years, announced Tuesday he will quit as head of the conservative Popular Party (PP) after being ousted as prime minister last week.
“I think the time has come to put a final full stop to this period. The PP must keep advancing and building its history at the service of Spaniards under the leadership of another person,” he told party activists.
Rajoy said a national executive meeting would take place “soon” to call an emergency congress which would “open a new stage in our party” and elect his successor.
He added he would stay on in his post as PP head until the successor is chosen, and gave no date or deadline.
This represents a spectacular turn of events just two weeks after Rajoy’s minority government managed to have its 2018 budget approved despite strong resistance.
Then, he and his ministers were all euphoria.
But that was short-lived as a day later on May 24, a court announced it had sentenced former PP officials, businessmen and their spouses to a total of 351 years in jail for their role in a vast bribery scheme.
It was one corruption scandal too many for the PP, which has been hit by a series of graft accusations.
The opposition Socialist party filed a motion of no-confidence, which passed on Friday, ousting Rajoy and replacing him with Socialist party chief Pedro Sanchez.