There is no question that public awareness of—that is, disgust with—corruption has grown. In the last year, quarterly polls conducted by the Center for Sociological Investigations saw Spaniards rank it as the country’s fourth gravest problem, surpassed only by unemployment and other economic issues. Yet, the Bárcenas revelations brought only an estimated 1,000 people to an impromptu demonstration held in front of Popular Party headquarters in Madrid. “The idea that politicians are getting envelopes stuffed with cash during these moments of crisis has certainly generated a sense of indignation,” says Villoria. “But there’s also a sense of what can you do besides answer a poll?” While those polls show overwhelming support for toughening sanctions against corruption, little government action has yet been taken. In the wake of the latest scandals, the Popular Party has promised to conduct a thorough internal investigation and prime minister Rajoy said that “his hand would not tremble” to punish anyone found guilty of misconduct. It has also promised greater accountability and oversight in the form of a Transparency Law, proposed last March but still not yet approved, that would require governments at all levels to make their accounts available to the public. But already there are caveats. On Friday, it was announced, that the royal family would be exempt from the law. And thanks to opposition from both the PP and the PSOE so too, most likely, will political parties. Over 75,000 citizens have signed an online petition asking that the parties be included in the legislation. But for that to happen, something would have to change.
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