Institutional Factors that Drive Political Corruption in Spanish Cities

Ms. Júlia Miralles de Imperial

My research question aims to find out to what extent institutional factors drive political corruption in Spanish cities. In line with the literature, I consider the following institutional factors as possible explanatory variables: the population of cities, their budget and the concentration of power in some political parties.
My hypotheses are firstly, that bigger cities tend to be less corrupt because of diverse factors (more professional public employees, more media focusing on public activity, etc.); secondly, that cities with more budget tend to be less corrupt, since some authors observe that the usual corrupt practices related to the real estate market are caused in part by the insufficient economic resources of city councils; and finally, that cities with more concentration of political power in one party tend to be more corrupt as they have less means of accountability, this relation is even stronger when the same party is predominant both in the city and the region due to the higher concentration of power.
The methodology for this research consists on the use of the statistical method with a large-N design. The units of observation are the 63 Spanish cities with at least 100.000 inhabitants.
My dependent variable is the comparative level of political corruption between the selected cities. I have created an index of corruption consisting on a figure for each city that considers the judicial sentences for corruption of policymakers and officers of the city council, available on the Judicial Documentation Centre of Spain. I consider the total years of imprisonment and of full or public charges and positions disqualification due to political corruption felonies in final judicial resolutions, excluding the cases of petty corruption that are not common in Spain.
I have chosen this operationalization of the level of corruption because of its objectivity, compared to the use of media information (the usual tool of the research on corruption in Spanish city councils) or surveys about perceptions that, anyway, are not available for Spain at the sub-national level.
The findings of this paper will constitute the first piece of empirical evidence about the institutional factors that drive corruption in Spanish cities using an objective measure based on judicial resolutions.