Thursday, March 30, 2023
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José Molina Molina

Without transparency there is no democracy

Doctor of Economics and Sociology

We live in two worlds, one is that of democratic ideas as a system of liberties, and the other in that of representative democracy, which responds to a structurally bureaucratic world that has separated us from the ideas that emerged from the Declaration of Human Rights Of 1789, and there are warning signs coming from those who understand that the democracy we live in is at a minimum and must be re-democratized. It is a complex situation that mankind is living in, and quite contradictory, we admit that, even as democratic countries, where oppression reigns, or we accept that even as free countries, we maintain a system of control, where governments appoint those who have to control them, and we would have to reflect that we are doing badly in coexisting with this conflict.


Regulatory bodies

The regulatory task that independent control agencies of democracies, including the rectors of the economy and the financial system, must perform, is not, and by definition can never be politically aseptic. And I say this clearly, so as not to confuse "partisan" neutrality with "political" neutrality, because a properly founded decision-making process must be based on technical, economic and legal knowledge. In the advisory function, the production of laws has its importance, in the application of the most adequate regulatory policy, but with absolute independence, transparency and accountability, as key elements for doing so.

In Spain, we suffer from two serious problems. On one hand, the supervisory and regulatory institutions lack the necessary independence, that is, in most cases they are mediated by politics, and their members are appointed by the party in power or in the distribution of representation according to their proportionality in power. In addition, there is another added problem in that many of these regulatory organisms are colonized and instrumented in a partisan way by sectarian "lobbyism". They are rarely transparent. That is why their image is deteriorated, the general public distrust the independence of its operation, and to go deeper into this criticism, I recommend what EFC (Economists Facing the Crisis) has repeatedly stated in its manifestos denouncing this state of affairs.

There is a question of how to redistribute the power game

I believe that, in this situation, we must ask ourselves sooner rather than later how we share out the power, the role of general public, theorists of society, representative democracy parties and social movements integrated into civil society. Because it is time to redistribute spaces in politics, those that the institutions have to play, some of government and others of control, as well as territorial spaces, where the central powers have to assume that we live in a regionalized context, with local life occupying quire a sensitive place and we have not adapted its structure to modern times. The '78 Constitution was articulated from what it had available, and what sustained it was a local despotism that had neither been modernized nor regenerated, so corruption has had a fertile breeding ground.

We must ask ourselves how we share out the power, the role of general public, theorists of society, representative democracy parties and social movements integrated into civil society

It is not enough to make technical adjustments to specific anti-corruption laws, says Transparency International. Deep systematic reforms are urgently needed to counterbalance the growing imbalance of power and wealth, empowering the general public to curb widespread impunity for corruption, demanding that the powerful be accountable and really have a voice in the decisions that affect their daily lives. Information, Piketty tells us, must nurture institutions to achieve their re-democratization, and in this way they can one day control the excesses of the capitalist system, because both democracy and the economic system must always be reinventing themselves, and without Rights, transparency does not mean much.

Spain has a quite serious problem of political corruption and we have to deal with comprehensively and without stopgaps, says Transparency International in its 2016 report. The effect of this data on Spain's image is negative, and its effect on possible investments could also hurt us. Now that we have a national government, it is time for a serious evaluation of the implementation and impacts of the measures taken, in addition to following the advice that comes from Transparency International Spain and other associations, and listen to experts and the civil society to undertake a comprehensive set of reforms in their levels of transparency, accountability, integrity, independence of the overseeing bodies and control and quality of decision-making and regulatory processes. But it is also time for all the Autonomous Regions and the main City Councils to also work together and collaborate with each other in the generation of efficient, transparent systems based on good practices of ethics in the management of the public.

Governed by the "Establishment"

The debates are spread across different areas, but there is one that attracts most tension, and that is of territorial organization, with its distribution of powers, functions, services and funding. And all this complicated by what is known by the Establishment, and that Owen Jones, in their subtitled work "La Casta al Desnudo" (The Caste Denuded), describes to us in a wealth of detail, those people who hold power, who controls, but who does not care whether they are liked or not, because the important thing is to be in command, with quite different visions, from the most conservative to the most progressive; from one side it is seen as a nest of national-liberalism-financial-corrupt, and with an uncontrolled content tending towards rancid, and from the other, progressive vision, it resembles a network of elite schools that dominate the key institutions from their high positions as Civil Servants, becoming the key to all political life. The Establishment is like a kaleidoscope, as configuring itself as necessary between different colour geometries. Owen says that it is like an inkblot, similar to the famous Rorschach test, where everyone sees the figures according to their own perception, is the political-social-economic psychiatric gateway.

Now the challenge is to explain well and choose correctly what to incorporate in political programmes, that injustice is a collective failure that needs collective solutions, and without transparency there is no democracy

Universal suffrage, says Owen Jones, opened the doors of democracy, now with the accumulated experience of behaviour as irrational as unfair that status quo, which guarantees the Establishment, now requires a democratic revolution, which by peaceful means, claim the rights to this power usurped from us, to anticipatively democratize and open up the institutions to the general public and to change a captive democracy, by participatory politics in the governments of the institutions. But this battle of ideas will be achieved only through emotion and showing all that it is more efficient. Because we have to win the minds, hearts and trust of civil society.

Today we are living through the full force of Trump, Brexit, Le Pen and many replica, and in view of these alliances, we are not responding with an understandable alternative and convincing people from an ideological context of social policy of participation, which is the evolution of politics of class, which in the 20th century united the Left against the abuses of the Right. For now, class sentiment no longer functions as it did in the last century, a product of the evaporation that has occurred in the crazy transition of bubbly consumption, and social connection has been lost. Now the challenge is to explain well and choose correctly what to incorporate in political programmes, that injustice is a collective failure that needs collective solutions, and without transparency there is no democracy.  

José Molina Molina is Member of Economists Facing Crisis and Transparency International Spain. President of the Transparency Council of the Region of Murcia.



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