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Spanish scandal! again...

 

AMIR HOSSAIN | Issue Dated: November 30, -0001, New Delhi
Tags : Mariano Rajoy | Corruptiion in Spain | Popular Party | Transparency International | Global Corruption Barometer 2013 |
 

Jose Cosin, author of the book “Mafia y corrupcion” (Mafia and Corruption) once aptly said that “we don’t know for sure how much money is given to political parties and what they do with it.” He was, of course, referring to the ever increasing practice of corruption in the funding of political parties. The very recent scandal involving the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s mismanagement of political funds, which has rocked the whole Europe, is a poignant testimony to the pork-barrelled politics that we see everywhere. On July 15, 2013, Spain's ruling center-right Popular Party’s (PP) ex-treasurer Luis Bárcenas confessed that he would like to maintain handwritten ledgers featuring illegal slush fund received from private firms. The treasurer also divulged that Prime Minister Rajoy accepted regular payments from the controversial fund.

After much speculation in the media, Rajoy has admitted that he had done a major mistake in trusting a disgraced former colleague but denied the charges and refused to resign from his post. However, the ongoing scandal has not only sullied Rajoy's reputation but it has also higlighted the issue of corrupt funding of  political parties. Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer 2013 revealed in July that the perception of corruption in Spain’s political parties was 4.4 on a scale of five. Carmen Molina, one of Spain's leading political experts, has voiced her concern by saying that “The lack of transparency in political parties’ accounts has paved the way for cases like that of Barcenas.”

A number of political analysts in Spain have severally criticised the ever increasing trend of rising election spends in spite of the country's current economic plight. The spokesperson of the Plural Left party, Jose Luis Centella, has argued that “political campaigns seem to pursue ‘the sale of a product’ rather than ‘a debate of ideas,’ leading to ‘costs in the millions’ that encourage illegal political funding.” As per the Court of Audit, Popular Party and Spanish Socialist Workers' Party alone made humongous expenditures of 41.6 million euros ($55 million) out of total expenses 62 million euros ($83 million) incurred in the last general elections held in November 2011.

However, the Court of Audit amended the law on party funding last year so as to keep a tab on private donations larger than 50,000 euros ($66,000). But sadly it has not proved adequate enough to combat illegal political funding. Obviously, to keep its politics from becoming a stooge of  moneybags, Spain needs to to come up with a stringent law to ensure transparency in funding of political parties.
 

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017