Spain drops 10 places in Transparency International 2013 corruption index

Only Syria falls further in survey on perceptions of corruption

Spain fell 10 places on an annual global corruption ranking for 2013, published Tuesday by Transparency International. The country’s slump to 40th on TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index was based on a series of scandals enveloping the royal family, the governing Popular Party and the main opposition Socialists. Only Syria, in the throes of a vicious civil war, fell further than Spain, which lost the same amount of ground as Gambia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Libya.

“What the economic crisis has done is allow more public debate about corruption [...] It is being exposed more and that affects perceptions. In Spain every sector -- politics, the royal family and companies -- was implicated in graft at a time when the country is really suffering,”

said Anne Koch, TI’s director for Europe and Central Asia.

The Luis Bárcenas affair, which suggests the former PP treasurer ran a parallel accounting system and made paid cash payments to party officials, and the investigation into the business affairs of King Juan Carlos’s son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, are two of the more high-profile cases to have made headlines this year, but there have been many more. Such has been the public outcry over the lack of accountability in the political sphere that lawmakers drew up the country’s first freedom of information law in 2013.

“The problem in Spain is the political reaction,” said Fernando Jiménez, a lecturer in political sciences at the University of Murcia. “Very few people resign here.”

Denmark and New Zealand topped the 2013 list, as they did last year. Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan shared the bottom spot for a second year running. The USA was ranked 18th while Russia improved slightly from 133rd to 127th and Greece remained the EU country with the highest perceived corruption levels, in 80th place.

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