A stream of corruption scandals emerged in Spain at the beginning of the 1990s. Many involved politicians, financiers and public officials who were closely connected to the socialist PSOE administration. Four factors can help to explain this upsurge in corruption: the financing of parties; the hegemony of the PSOE from 1982 to 1996; the nature of state development; and the nature of civil society.
   Political parties themselves have frequently been the protagonists of corruption cases, the most important of which was the so-called Filesa case, named after a Barcelona-based group of consultancy companies that allegedly financed the socialists" 1989 general election campaign. All parties, to a greater or lesser extent, have resorted to irregular financing, as without it they seem unable to meet the high expenses involved in the continuous round of municipal, regional and general elections. State budget allocations to parties are insufficient, party membership is so low that income from members" dues is negligible, and there is no mechanism for tax-deductible political donations which are, in any case, curtailed by law.
   Alongside charges of corruption for financial purposes, Spanish parties, and the PSOE in particular, have been accused of abusing state resources for party purposes. This has been most apparent in the case of television, where the socialists have been charged with partisan control of appointments and news output. The 1986 referendum campaign to decide Spain's entry to NATO was the clearest example of the PSOE's abuse of the media and the administration. No major newspaper sympathized with the "no" campaign, television coverage was blatantly onesided and "no" campaigners were sometimes denied use of meeting places.
   The socialists have also been criticized for a lack of transparency in their relationship with the business community. "Insider-trading" increased dramatically in Spain during the 1980s economic boom. The most spectacular example was the downfall of Mariano Rubio, the former governor of the Bank of Spain, imprisoned in 1994 on charges of fraud, tax evasion and falsifying public documents. The PSOE has also been accused of handing out favours and sinecures to party members, as well as influence trafficking. Such behaviour undoubtedly tarnished the socialists" image and contributed to their electoral decline and ultimate loss of power to the right-wing PP (Partido Popular—Popular Party) in the 1996 general elections.
   State development in Spain has long been hampered by the persistence of patron-client networks and clientelistic practices. Although today the Spanish state more closely resembles other states in Europe than at any other time in its history, much of this previous patrimonial legacy still remains. Despite extensive reforms, the state remains an ubiquitous presence and still provides numerous opportunities for corruption. First, there has been a significant rise in public spending and an increase in government activities. Second, the establishment of the seventeen autonomous communities in Spain, designed to take power away from the central state, has in reality simply duplicated it at the regional level, thereby creating greater opportunities for corruption. In sharp contrast to this ubiquitous state is a civil society which has historically lacked longstanding associational traditions. The response of civil society to the high level of corruption and the parties" excessive penetration of the state, has been one of passivity, which has encouraged the political class to act with impunity. The press has been the only sector really to challenge the high level of corruption. As far as the judiciary is concerned, investigations into corruption have frequently produced unsatisfactory sentences. This is because the judiciary is often far from independent of the government. A twentymember committee known as the Consejo General del Poder Judicial (General Council of the Judiciary) regulates Spain's judicial system. As parliament has been responsible for electing all twenty members since 1985, the PSOE effectively controlled the judiciary until the loss of its absolute majority in 1993. Until this date, the socialists also effectively gained control over the board in charge of the state-owned radio and television network, the Defensor del Pueblo (Spain's Ombudsman), the Tribunal de Cuentas (Audit Tribunal) which audits public-sector accounts, and even the Constitutional Tribunal itself. Given the use of proportional representation, the commission which drafted the 1978 constitution had made membership of such institutions dependent upon the balance of forces in parliament.
   Such a wave of corruption scandals, however, should neither be exaggerated nor seen as the exclusive preserve of the socialist government. Although some claim that corruption is the hallmark of modern democratic Spain, it has long characterized Spain's political history: the Francoist regime was equally marked by high levels of corruption. One hopeful feature of democracy in Spain is that corruption, thanks to the press and to the integrity of certain individual judges, has come out into the open and is being tackled in a forthright manner. Penal measures against corruption have been introduced in Spain, albeit belatedly and hurriedly. These include a tighten-ing-up of the penal code and increased penalties for insider trading and tax fraud. Other moves include establishing a special prosecutor's office to deal with corruption and strengthening the powers of the Audit Tribunal. Parliamentary committees have also been established to investigate party funding. Despite such measures, most agree that corruption will continue in Spain unless there is a reform of party financing and greater transparency and accountability with regard to the activities of political parties, their relation to the state and to other interests in society, in particular, big business.
   Further reading
   - Heywood, P. (ed.) (1994) Distorting Democracy: Political Corruption in Spain, Italy and Malta, CMS Occasional paper, No. 10; University of Bristol: Centre for Mediterranean Studies (a detailed analysis of corruption in Spain).
   - Hooper, J. (1995) The New Spaniards, Harmonds worth : Penguin (corruption is analysed in several chapters, particularly chapters 5 and 31).
   - Martín de Pozuelo, E. et al. (1994) Guía de la Corrupción, Barcelona: Plaza & Janes (a journalistic guide to the various corruption cases in Spain).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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  • corruption — [ kɔrypsjɔ̃ ] n. f. • v. 1130; lat. corruptio, de corrumpere → corrompre 1 ♦ (1170) Vieilli Altération de la substance par décomposition. ⇒ décomposition, pourriture, putréfaction. 2 ♦ Littér. Altération du jugement, du goût, du langage. ⇒… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • corruption — CORRUPTION. sub. f. Altération dans les qualités principales, dans la substance d une chose. La corruption de la viande. La corruption de l air. Cela tend à corruption. La corruption du sang, des humeurs. Il y a des terres où les corps se… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • corruption — Corruption. s. f. v. Alteration dans les qualitez principales, dans la substance d une chose qui se gaste. La corruption de la viande. la corruption de l air. cela tend à corruption. la corruption du sang, des humeurs. Il se dit aussi dans le… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Corruption — Cor*rup tion (k?r r?p sh?n), n. [F. corruption, L. corruptio.] 1. The act of corrupting or making putrid, or state of being corrupt or putrid; decomposition or disorganization, in the process of putrefaction; putrefaction; deterioration. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • corruption — cor‧rup‧tion [kəˈrʌpʆn] noun [uncountable] 1. LAW the crime of giving or receiving money, gifts, a better job etc in exchange for doing something dishonest or illegal: • He denies twelve counts of corruption. • The Chamber of Deputies voted to… …   Financial and business terms

  • corruption — Corruption, Corruptio, Violatio. Corruption totale d aucun membre, Sideratio. La corruption et ruïne de toute innocence, Labes innocentiae, et ruina. Par corruption, Corrupte. Par corruption de dons, Per sordes. Sans corruption, Inuiolate. Juger… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • corruption — I noun abuse of public trust, act of bribing, act of profiteering, baseness, breach of faith, breach of trust, bribery, complicity, conduct involving graft, corrupt inducement, corruptela, corruptibility, corruptio, crime, criminality, debasement …   Law dictionary

  • corruption — [n1] dishonesty breach of trust, bribery, bribing, crime, crookedness, demoralization, exploitation, extortion, fiddling, fraud, fraudulency, graft, jobbery, malfeasance, misrepresentation, nepotism, on the take*, payoff, payola*, profiteering,… …   New thesaurus

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  • corruption — mid 14c., of material things, especially dead bodies, also of the soul, morals, etc., from L. corruptionem (nom. corruptio), noun of action from pp. stem of corrumpere (see CORRUPT (Cf. corrupt)). Of public offices from early 15c.; of language… …   Etymology dictionary

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