Metroscopia survey shows 95-percent mistrust in courts’ grip on corruption

Poll also reveals respondents believe national crisis-busting pact is unlikely

Josep Antoni Duran Lleida, leader of the UDC party within the Catalan CiU coalition. / BERNARDO PÉREZ

Spaniards are under the impression that political corruption is on the rise and, what's even worse, that guilty politicians enjoy almost complete impunity from the law. The latest Metroscopia poll for EL PAÍS shows that 63 percent of Spaniards feel there is more political corruption than ever; 54 percent said there is more of it in Spain than in other countries, and a staggering 95 percent expressed mistrust in political parties and the justice system's ability, or willingness, to fight corruption.

Cases like the illegal financing of the Catalan party Unió in the so-called Pallerols investigation contribute to that impression of impunity. In that case, the main suspects, including UDC leader Josep Antoni Duran Llleida, did not go to trial until 16 years after the events and ended up avoiding jail anyway thanks to a last-minute settlement deal hammered out this month. Although the letter of the law was respected in the Unió case, citizens wanted exemplary punishment to atone for the accumulation of corruption cases nationwide.

That is why 92 percent of respondents deplore the tardiness of the justice system, to the point that it is considered inefficient in the fight against corruption.

Adding to this feeling is the accused parties' resistance to resigning from politics. Fully 95 percent of those surveyed believe that political parties tend to cover up for their corrupt members, instead of turning them in and revoking their membership. This kind of protective attitude can work across party lines, as shown last March by the ruling Popular Party, which pardoned a Unió leader to help him avoid prison.

The survey coincides with other opinion polls in its estimate of voter disaffection

Given this perceived lack of adequate response from political parties and the justice system, 87 percent of respondents said the answer to corruption must be a strong stance by voters, who should not support lists containing corruption suspects (the voting system in Spain works with closed lists whose members are selected by party leaders).

However, 67 percent of Spaniards feel that corrupt office holders represent only a minority of politicians - but that there are enough to stain the whole.

The survey coincides with other opinion polls in its estimate of voter disaffection. If elections were held today, voter turnout would be an estimated 60 to 62 percent, which is 10 to 12 percentage points below turnout at the 2011 general elections. A great national pact is what Spain needs right now to fight the economic crisis, according to 86 percent of respondents, yet 76 percent views such an agreement as unlikely.

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