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Powerful Spanish regional leader under pressure as court investigates her partner’s tax affairs

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MADRID (AP) — A Spanish judge has opened an investigation into alleged fraud and false documentation against the partner of Madrid’s powerful rightwing regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who has recently faced a wave of calls to resign over several controversies.

The move Friday is certain to put more pressure on her party, Spain’s main conservative opposition Popular Party, to take action against her.

Ayuso, who is seen as a possible future party leader and prime ministerial candidate, has come under fire in recent months on several fronts. Last week, news reports said the Spanish tax office was investigating accusations of tax fraud against her partner, Alberto González Amador.

His alleged enrichment thanks to his connections with Ayuso has led opposition parties to call for her immediate resignation.

Ayuso, who is visiting Chile on Friday, has hit back, denying the allegations and saying they were part of an orchestrated opposition campaign to try to halt her political rise and take the focus off a major scandal affecting the ruling Socialist party.

Ayuso also claims that while she lives in her partner’s luxury Madrid apartment, his financial dealings have nothing to do with her.

The court move Friday against González Amador and four other partners was sparked by a prosecutor’s probe into tax fraud of some 350,000 euros ($380,000) following treasury inspections.

Lawyers for González admitted to the fraud this week in a statement to the prosecutors’ office, Spanish media reported.

Several hundred people gathered outside the Popular Party’s headquarters in Madrid on Wednesday to demand Ayuso’s dismissal, the first demonstration against her. The party has so far defended her.

The Socialists and the Popular Party are constantly engaged in accusing each other of corruption and not acting against culprits.

The Socialists are currently grappling with the fallout of a probe into money made from the purchase of masks during the COVID-19 crisis that is affecting an adviser of a former minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and strongman in the Socialist party.

Ayuso, 45, has been regional president since 2019 and won an overwhelming majority in regional elections last year.

Dubbed by some as Spain’s future Margaret Thatcher, she has rarely been far from controvers y, both within her party and outside.

She has come under intense criticism for the deaths of more than 7,000 people in nursing homes during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic as orders were issued that they should not be transferred for treatment to overloaded hospitals in the region.

During the crisis, she also attracted much attention at home and abroad by challenging the national government´s lockdown policies.

This week, she defended her chief adviser against accusations that he had bullied journalists deemed to be from opposition media that have been covering the story about her life partner.

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