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Spain lawmakers advance transparency law to fight corruption

Spanish lawmakers on Thursday passed amendments to Spain's freedom of information law that aim to combat political corruption. The amendments, which increase accountability for the use of public funds [Reuters report], include political parties, the royal family, lobbies, unions and employers' associations. The new law will require all levels of government to provide clear public records concerning which companies have government contracts. The current transparency law [text, in Spanish] has been criticized for lacking these key features. Currently, Spain is the only EU country without a law guaranteeing citizens a right to information on how public funds are spent. I Advocacy groups such as Transparency International Spain [official website, in Spanish], encouraged [press release] Parliament to pass the law in order to provide a strong legal framework against corruption. The bill is expected to pass both houses of Parliament.

The funding of political parties has been a contentious issue in Spain recently, and the unclear funding of political parties has led to a series of scandals in the past decade. Currently, the governing People's Party [official website] is under judicial investigation for alleged illegal financing. The scandal [Reuters report] involves politicians from the ruling political party who allegedly received kickbacks from a slush fund of corporate donations held in a Swiss bank. In June 2012 the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Spain [official website, in Spanish] resigned [JURIST report] over allegations that he used public funds for personal trips between 2008 and 2012. Carlos Divar [El Pais profile], who was also the chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, announced [El Pais report] during a 20-member judicial oversight board meeting that he would step down from his position while rejecting the allegations against him.

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