A Survey on Particularism in Spain: Some Preliminary Results

Dr. Fernando Jimenez
Mr. José Luis Ros Medina
Dr. Monica Garcia Quesada

This research seeks to examine the nature and the effects of particularism in the occurrence of corruption practices in Spain.
Political particularism is defined as the ability of policymakers to further their careers by catering to narrow interests rather than to broader national platforms. The degree of particularism in a political system depends on two interrelated but distinct elements: On the supply side, particularism depends on the preferences and behavior of political leaders – to what extent they favor decisions that benefit only to a section of society. On the demand side, particularism depends on citizens either facilitating, or impeding, particularistic decision-making.
This paper combines two different methodological strategies in order to explore both dimensions. Our hypothesis suggests that corrupted practices can be facilitated either by citizens’ higher tolerance to particularistic decision-making (demand side) or by political elites’ ability to allocate public resources (public employment, subsidies, procurement, …) in a particularistic way.
Methodologically, we test our hypothesis by comparing both the results of a unique survey to citizens and some interviews to academic experts and former rulers to be conducted in two Spanish regions (Andalusia and the Basque Country) that present different degrees of corruption – higher in the former. These regions have similar formal mechanisms to detect and penalize corruption, and share common cultural values, so testing for particularistic attitudes and behaviors will contribute to understand the causes behind corrupted practices.
In this sense, our research contributes to identify the conditions for corruption to emerge, and joins a developing body of literature that examines relevant differences at the subnational level.