‘Corruption remains a serious problem’: Spain’s latest report card shows no improvement in ongoing efforts to battle graft

SPAIN has failed to improve its mediocre ranking of shady countries, according to the latest edition of Transparency Internationals’ Corruption Perception Index.

The NGO put the country in joint-36th place (out of 180) and awarded it a very middling 60 out of 100, with one hundred being perfect and zero being hopelessly ridden with dishonesty.

It is exactly the same ranking and score as last year – however it comes off the back of two consecutive declines in the two preceding years, dropping one point in 2022 and another in 2021.

The position pits Spain as equally clean as Latvia and the little-known Caribbean islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

juan roca
Juan Antonio Roca was behind one of Spain’s biggest ever corruption rings in Marbella’s Malaya case

The Spanish might be irked to find themselves one point below neighbours Portugal, but at least they are significantly better off than Italy (42nd, 56 out of 100).

The long-term trend for Spain, according to the CPI, is one of gradual stagnation since 2019, and a six-point deterioration since the dizzy heyday of 2012.

It comes after the hopeful ‘year of change’ in 2015 when two new parties emerged, Podemos and Cuidadanos, promising to sweep corruption away.

But sadly, Spain returned to business as usual with both the main parties, PSOE and the PP, coming to dominate the political scene once again in the following years by 2020.

“Without a doubt, it can be stated that corruption remains a serious problem that should alert both citizens and public authorities,” Transparency International wrote, in a year where Andalucia’s nearly-€1 billion ERE corruption scandal from 15 years ago is still occupying the courts.

“The weakening of the judicial system is one of the fundamental causes that prevent progress and affect the drop in the global ranking.”

Coke Chauffeur Trujillo 2
The infamous ‘cocaine chauffeur’, Juan Francisco Trujillo, in the ERE corruption scandal that embroiled the Junta of Andalucia

The organisation noted that Spain is now below countries that were ‘clearly further behind two years ago, such as Israel or Cape Verde.’

It added: “Spain must undertake a significant effort to improve its position in future editions. 

“It is necessary not only to address legislative reforms but also to implement appropriate procedures and controls for integrity, transparency, and accountability. 

It introduces a shopping list of policy steps to implement, such as the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary, reforming the Transparency Law, abolishing the Golden Visa program, improving parliamentary transparency, creating an independent whistleblower protection authority, and promoting the regulation of a mandatory interest group registry.

The report comes in a year in which Andalucia’s ERE scandal is still in the news, Marbella’s ‘Malaya case’ has been making fresh waves after a smash hit true crime series aired Spanish national TV, and the ‘Mediator’ case, the Cursach case and ‘Operation Kitchen’ were still unfolding.

Mallorca Judge
Judge Miguel Ángel Subirán was sentenced to nine years in jail for his crimes in the Cursach case

Denmark (90) tops the index for the sixth consecutive year, closely followed by Finland and New Zealand with scores of 87 and 85, respectively. 

Due to the proper functioning of justice systems, these countries also rank among the top in the Rule of Law Index.

Somalia (11), Venezuela (13), Syria (13), South Sudan (13), and Yemen (16) occupy the lowest positions in the index. 

All these countries are affected by prolonged crises, mostly armed conflicts.

There are 23 countries—including some high-ranking democracies like Iceland (72), the Netherlands (79), Sweden (82), and the United Kingdom (71), as well as some authoritarian states like Iran (24), Russia (26), Tajikistan (20), and Venezuela (13)—that are at historical lows this year.

jorge fernandez diaz ignacio gil
Jorge Fernandez Diaz is accused of overseeing a police network to spy on the former Popular Party treasurer Luis Barcenas in ‘Operation Kitchen’

Since 2018, 12 countries have registered a significant decline in CPI scores. 

The list includes low and middle-income countries such as El Salvador (31), Honduras (23), Liberia (25), Myanmar (20), Nicaragua (17), Sri Lanka (34), and Venezuela (13), as well as upper-middle and high-income economies like Argentina (37), Austria (71), Poland (54), Turkey (34), and the United Kingdom (71).

During the same period, eight countries showed improvements in the CPI: Ireland (77), South Korea (63), Armenia (46), Vietnam (42), Maldives (40), Moldova (39), Angola (33), and Uzbekistan (31).


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