In June, the Spanish Centre for Sociological Research published a troubling statistic: only 27% of Spaniards trust the current political system. This marks the first time in several decades that this figure has fallen below 30%, and shows just how far Spanish trust in politicians has plummeted over the past few months.
Last week, ESADE and the other members of UNIJES, the federation of Jesuit universities in Spain, unveiled the “Declaration for Democratic Regeneration in Spanish Public Life”. This declaration sets out our concerns regarding the current social and political situation.
In difficult times such as these, we must demand honest attitudes and abiding commitments from our politicians. Political transformation and renewal are necessary so that politics can become a true service to society rather than a mere struggle to seize and maintain power. To promote social justice and reduce inequality we must first regenerate politics.
The declaration lists the principles that first inspired us towards reflection. It sets out our commitments as universities, and a series of urgent, high-priority proposals aimed at regaining public trust and reversing the country’s social, political and economic deterioration.
The UNIJES proposals we adhere to are, in summary, as follows:
1. Introduce a more effective separation of powers that guarantees judicial independence and prevents the judiciary from becoming politicised for partisan gain.
2. Ensure greater transparency in politics and public bodies, through good control practices, evaluations and public accountability.
3. Promote a reform in Spanish electoral law to boost citizen participation, curtail excessive party power, and raise the profile of parliamentary business.
4. Recuperate practical –and constitutional– consensus regarding organisation of the Spanish territory, in order to increase popular acceptance and ensure desirable levels of cohesion and solidarity.
5. Reform public administration with the object of guaranteeing greater administrative efficiency and effectiveness, as well as a transparent and quality public service.
6. Fight corruption by making public-sector procurement more transparent and ensuring that independent public-inspection services have adequate resources.
7. Bring the underground economy to light – an urgent and necessary prerequisite to prevent corruption, promote fiscal justice and ensure equitable financing for public functions.
8. Reform the taxation system to ensure that it is sufficiently progressive, equitable and beneficial to all, in order to eliminate incentives for tax evasion, opacity and chaos.
9. Promote a self-control system for media outlets that incorporates ethics committees and accepted best practices, so as to ensure both freedom of speech and journalistic accuracy.