Spain has been systematically engulfed in corruption scandals in recent years. Few aspects of public life in the country have remained exempt of corruption, be it the Royal House, large corporations, municipal authorities, sports, or political parties.
Accordingly, Spain has suffered one of the steepest declines in the past years on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Spain has gone down by seven points since 2012 and with 58 now scores worse than most Western European democracies.
“Corruption in Spain distorts policy making and hurts people’s basic rights for the benefit of a few. Just looking at recent scandals like the Pujol case in Catalonia, the linkages between the ruling People's Party and the construction group OHL, the Gürtel case, the Bankia fraud and Rodrigo Rato, gives a sense of the scale of the problem,” said José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International.
“This does not need to remain this way. Spain has the democratic maturity, the institutions and a vibrant population and can reverse this trend and stand up to corruption, including grand corruption,” added Ugaz.
To stop grand corruption scandals and end systemic corruption the Spanish government must act immediately. The first step should be to reverse the appointment of the anti-corruption prosecutor who has been widely called into question for a potential lack of impartiality given his links to the ruling party.
Transparency International urges political forces in the country to stop looking at corruption as part of the political and electoral struggle for power and instead come together in a broad coalition to deal with the challenge of systemic corruption as a policy of state that transcends specific political parties.
“The institutional and legal infrastructure for preventing corruption and punishing corrupt acts needs to be improved in dialogue between the government, political forces and civil society. It is urgent that the judiciary operate in a professional manner, free of political intervention, so we can start seeing timely and effective sanctions for those responsible for corruption,” said Ugaz.
Note to editors: José Ugaz is in Madrid on 19 May and available for interviews. Transparency International Spain has prepared a set of measures to combat corruption in the country and improve the functioning and independence of the Prosecutor General Office. Those measures will be presented to the Prosecutor General of Spain by José Ugaz and Jesús Lizcano, President of Transparency International Spain, on 19 May.
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