Spain: Is corruption now an inherent part of the system?

spain2014 has been a year full of corruption for Spain. One main case was the “Nóos”, in which the former king’s daughter, sister of the current king, was charged in a corruption case. Iñaki Urdangarin, her husband, was investigated by diverting public funds to an organization and using them for personal expenses. The prosecution requested 19 years of prison for corruption, tax fraud and money laundering – while Urgangarin still pleads his innocence. Cristina de Borbón (The king’s sister) testified in front of the judge, most of the time answering only; “I don’t know” and ” I don’t remember”.

The corruption inside of the political system has been overwhelming. This has caused the rejection of the current system by Spanish citizens and a discomfort with the current politicians. The Scandalous “Bárcenas” case appeared at the beginning of 2013. Luis Bárcenas was the accounting of the political party PP (Partido Popular), the current ruling party. He has been accused of paying bonuses with black money to senior politicians from 5,000 to 15,000 Euros per month. The alleged ‘account B’ (unreported in the public funds) in which Luis Bárcenas was in charge from 1990 to 2009 reveals that numerous politicians, businessmen and even the current president were involved in this corrupted frame, receiving illegal donations and black money in envelopes.

The political party “PP” and the President denies such information, choosing to avoid talking about it. Luis Bárcenas has been in prison for around 20 months. He was released a few days ago when their relatives paid 200,000 Euros of bail.

Another important corruption case was the “ERE” case that affected the opposition party in the country for corruption in public subsidies in Andalucía.

Also the much discussed case “Gürtel”, that affects the current ruling part, of influence peddling, corruption, tax fraud, money laundering and bribery.

And the list goes on and on.

One case that most outraged the Spanish citizens was the so called “Bankia” case, in which the directors of several banks used so called “black cards” with which they spent up 15.5 million Euros of Public money in meals and private trips over 9 years. The banks had to be rescued with public money in 2012 due to large losses.

The last but not the least was in Catalonia. Jordi Pujol, the president of the community for 23 years and a well respected figure for many Catalans, admitted having a bank account in another country to avoid taxes, about 4 million Euros located in Andorra.

All these cases would sound more typical from a movie about the mafia, but unfortunately, all of these cases have happened in the real life and became part of the system for a long time.

In a Spain in crisis, where 20.4% of the population and 27.5% of children lives in risk of poverty, with a 23.9% of unemployment, 53.5% of youth unemployment, almost 700,000 families living without any income and the country in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) with the largest increase in social inequalities, it is not surprising that most of the Spanish are very angry with the instituted corruption in the country – where a minority of miserable, an institutionalized mafia, steals what belongs to the majority.

In this “democracy” of today, Spaniards are being stolen not only economically through the corruption but democratically, denying them the right to demonstrate; through a new law that penalize with fines of up to 600,000 Euros for demonstrating in public spaces. The right to a job too; with 24% unemployment and a stagnant economy – it is very difficult to find a job. The right to housing; banks evicted families every day because they can’t pay back the loans, and many other rights.

It is for all these reasons that 2014 has been the year in which the two-party political system has begun to be questioned and from this great support for new alternative political parties has emerged.

What will happen in the future? We don’t know with complete certainty. But, what we know is that, nowadays, we have less money and fewer rights.


Mercè Girbau is an international volunteer at the Women’s Information Centre in Tbilisi from Barcelona, Spain. She has a strong interest in women’s rights and the struggle for female equality and hopes to address these topics in her future work.


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