The Civio Foundation, which has just completed its second survey of Spain’s leading political parties, says the "general culture" of opacity is “devastating”, national daily 20 Minutos reported on Tuesday.
The foundation, a non-profit body which promotes greater transparency among Spain’s public institutions, gives its top mark of 'five' to the centrist UPyD party, the Catalan left-green ICV and the Aragonese Chunta regional group.
But these three groups between them account for just seven of the 350 deputies in the national parliament in Madrid.
These parties obtained their good grade by publishing the diaries of their deputies, listing all meetings and pubic engagements, a practice recommended by Greco, the anti-corruption agency at the Council of Europe, an influential 47-nation-strong organization which promotes democracy and the rule of law.
Noting that in general the smaller parties “showed a greater willingness” than the bigger groups to share such information, the Civio Foundation report, which covers the January-July period of 2014, awards Spain’s two largest parties, the ruling Popular Party and the major opposition party — the socialist PSOE — three out of five.
The Catalan Republican Left (ERC), the United Left coalition group (IU) and the Basque Nationalist Party were among those given just two points, while in the hall of shame with the minimum score of one are Catalonia’s ruling coalition group CiU, the leftist Basque nationalists of Amaiur, the BNG Galician nationalists, Navarre’s UPN and Compromís, a left-wing grouping from the Valencia region.
“We are focusing on the diaries of parties with representation in this congressional legislature, but we believe that ministers, the prime minister, regional leaders and any high-ranking official should publish his work diary in full. Without exception,” says Cristina Moreno de Alborán, the author of the Civio report.
In January, Greco said Spain needed to ramp up its fight against corruption by introducing key reforms aimed at greater transparency.
Citing the numerous corruption scandals in the country and a general lack of public faith in the country's politicians, the group noted that Spain was slipping in the annual ratings issued by Transparency International.
In 2008, the country was among the 20 least corrupt countries in the world. In 2013, however, the country was in position 40.
Greco noted that Spain had already taken some steps towards improving the situation, and cited the country's Transparency Law, passed in November 2013.
This law obliges all public administrations to publish regular updates on objectives and activities, and to publish figures on salaries and compensation, including severance, of top executives.
But Greco also said current arrangements for Spanish MPs and senators regarding "ethical principles and standards of conduct are insufficient".
Both chambers of the Spanish parliament need to bring in rules for issues like the prevention of conflicts of interest and greater disclosure of financial interests, Greco said in its report.
The group also argued that Spain needed to regulate relations between politicians and lobbyists.
A "robust enforcement mechanism to sanction wrongdoing" was also key, according to the Greco report.