Madrid leader Cristina Cifuentes resigns over supermarket shoplifting video

Cristina Cifuentes. AFP

"I have held on for more than 34 to 35 days of permanent exposure".

The security video footage, made public by OK Diario newspaper, dates from 2011, when Ms Cifuentes was vice-president of the Madrid regional parliament for the conservative Popular Party (PP).

This video, taken by a security camera in a supermarket in the south of Madrid in 2011, showed Cifuentes and a security guard after she had been caught stealing two jars of moisturizing cream thought to be worth around 40 euros (48.7 US dollars). She eventually pays for the creams, which reportedly were worth around €40.

Speaking at a hastily convened press conference on Wednesday morning, Cifuentes announced she was quitting.

She has not resigned as president of the Madrid PP.

Cifuentes's troubles began on 21 March when El Diario first raised questions over the validity of the master's degree she had been awarded by King Juan Carlos University in Madrid. The allegations also charged that senior figures in the university had colluded in an attempted cover-up.

She responded to the accusations by presenting a document which she said proved the legitimacy of her degree, although it later transpired that the signatures on the paper she showed as proof were false.

Cifuentes, who had governed that Madrid region since 2015, said she was stepping aside so as not to jeopardise her administration's achievements or allow her political opponents to take control.

She said on Wednesday she was stepping down to spare her colleagues and her family any further embarrassment and discomfort.

The chief of the Madrid regional government, once seen as a rising star who could become prime minister of Spain, resigned Wednesday after a website posted video that appeared to show her being detained for shoplifting - the latest in a series of blows to the governing People's Party.

"Cristina Cifuentes has done what she had to do", he said. "I think the situation made her resignation obligatory". She said the video had been circulating for some time and that she had contacted the police previously after being blackmailed with it.

Cifuentes' former deputy Angel Garrido is expected to replace her as president of the Autonomous Community of Madrid until regional elections are held in 2019.

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