Fears over corruption soar as Spain suffers swathe of high profile cases

But unemployment remains biggest problem for most people, according to March survey

Spaniards’ concerns over corruption are growing again, according to an opinion survey by the Center for Sociology Studies (CIS). The poll, which was conducted in early March, shows that unemployment continues to rank among Spain’s top three problems for a significant majority of respondents, 72.3%. Of these, 46.7% said it was the country’s biggest problem, while 19.8% said it was the second worst problem and 5.7% said it was the third.

Defendants during Spain’s Gürtel corruption trial.
Defendants during Spain’s Gürtel corruption trial.Chema Moya / EFE

But corruption rose significantly on the scale of things that people worry about, climbing seven percentage points from 37.3% in February to 44.8% in March. Asked what Spain’s top three problems are, 18.9% said that “corruption and fraud” was Spain’s biggest concern, while 18.2% said it was the second biggest scourge, and 7.6% said it was the third top problem.

Concern about corruption reached a high in November 2014

The survey, released on Thursday, was conducted just as the regional premier of Murcia, Pedro Antonio Sánchez, was testifying in court over allegations of wrongdoing in the construction of an auditorium in a town where he used to be mayor. He has since resigned, following political pressure from all sides.

Between March 1 and 10, there was also ample news coverage of other cases of political corruption, including the ongoing, high-profile Gürtel trial, a case involving six regional governments and nearly 200 official suspects.

Concern about corruption reached a high in November 2014, when 63.9% of Spaniards said corruption was among their top concerns. That was the time that another major nationwide corruption case known as Púnica was making headlines.

The March survey also shows that 60.7% of respondents feel the economic situation in Spain is either bad or very bad, although this percentage has dropped from 62.7% in February, reflecting an uptick in optimism. Still, only 4.4% said that the economy is in good shape, while 54% said things are the same as a year ago.

As for the political situation, 70.9% of those polled defined it as either bad or very bad, nearly a point higher than in February. Barely 0.2% called it very good, while 2.7% said it is good.

Asked whether they thought the political situation will be better a year from now, 47.6% said things will be the same, while 23.8% believe they will get worse, and 12.4% trust that they will improve.

English version by Susana Urra.

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