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Corrupt candidates are fighting on

Both PP and Socialists will field suspect individuals in upcoming elections

Both majority parties - the ruling Socialists (PSOE) and the conservatives of the Popular Party (PP) - are constantly criticizing each other for their respective corruption cases. Yet both (and to a lesser extent, other parties as well) will likely include individuals facing corruption charges on their tickets for upcoming regional and local elections.

Some of the PP candidates for the May 22 poll are involved in major scandals such as the Gürtel case, an extensive bribes-for-contracts scheme, while indicted Socialists are mostly being investigated for minor cases in small and midsize municipalities.

EL PAÍS analyzed the party lists in seven regions of Spain - those with the highest concentration of corruption cases currently in the courts - and focused on judicial proceedings relating to real-estate corruption and other crimes connected to land use where political favors are suspected. If other types of crimes are considered, over 80 election candidates are under court investigation (more than half from the PP and nearly 35 percent from the PSOE). Taking all regions into account, that figure rises to more than 100 suspect individuals.

Although the Valencian PP confirmed its lists last Friday - including 11 questionable candidates - electoral lists are still not definitive, so numbers could change before the vote is held. In any case, the 2007 elections seemed to prove that voters do not punish corrupt candidates; as a matter of fact, many of those who faced charges actually obtained more votes than ever.

The most striking case of disregard for corrupt practices is the Valencian region, where the regional premier, Francisco Camps, is running for reelection despite being accused of allegedly accepting expensive clothes in exchange for favors to businesses run by the Gürtel network. The national leader of the PP, Mariano Rajoy, this week confirmed Camps would continue to head the Valencia ticket even if he ends up having to go to court. On the municipal front, the PP has approved 11 candidates suspected of wrongdoing, while the PSOE is putting forward four names.

Andalusia ranks second after Valencia in number of candidates under investigation. This time, the Socialists lead the way with 11 suspect names, followed by five from the PP, two from United Left and four from smaller parties. The most salient case is that of the mayor of Quesada (Jaén), a Socialist who is running for reelection even though he was convicted last October for failing to clamp down on real estate corruption, and barred from holding office for six years.

Although both the PP and PSOE have in-house ethics codes to help achieve more transparency in the exercise of public power, neither one expressly promises to refrain from including individuals under investigation on their election lists.