dimarts, 27 de novembre de 2012

Pricking the bubble of partitocracy

"Every cloud has a silver lining", goes the popular refrain. In this sense, were many who thought that the crisis would serve to lift the carpet of these all years of bubble, to get rid of extra structures and to rationalize spending. But instead of propelling a new paradigm of economic model,  the crisis has put forward the hardships of the Spanish political system. In a recent article, The Wall Street Journal referred to Spain as a country of mediocre politicians, conflicts of interest and cronyism.

One cause of this painful perception lies in the Spanish partitocracy. Political parties have entrenched themselves in the (mis) governance of the public to the point of becoming establishment. The fact that Spain is the country with more political offices per capita in Europe is not justified by efficiency of public administration, but by the need to cover the modus vivendi of the political class. Public subsidies, parties released, positions on boards, chairing buddies savings, expenses, contracts friends... All this string of serves the status quo of the parties. A few days ago it was reported that of the 245 consultants handpicked by President Rajoy, 68 didn’t even graduate high school. What are they going to advise, how to get out of the crisis?

Professor Alejandro Nieto argues that today's political system consists of a network of personal relationships constitutes a revamped feudal system. In this context, the corporate interests of the political class prevail over the collective and parties cover each other's nakedness. Now, above all raw blind loyalty to the party leadership is valued. This explains how there are so many politicians who have not seen any other workplace than are provided by the placement agency of political parties. How many politicians today have been entrepreneurs? How many have worked in private enterprise? This low level personal qualification results in extreme inefficiency.

Politicians are unable to propose real solutions and simply cut right and left hoping that the crisis abates as if it were a more or less temporary passenger. Also, the slow pace of the political class (there are many politicians who have spent more than twenty years gaining public funds) is not conducive to the public interest avails. Stamping on the institutional carpet regularly makes many forget the dust storms of the needy.

The rule of partitocracy has consolidated a political elite that lives outside of the real problems of the citizens. The gap between politicians and citizens is becoming deeper, but this aren’t too concerned about our leaders: while abstention does not involve loss of votes to lose control of the institutions, the parties need not be alarmed and may continue their musical chairs entertaining games of fratricidal. This situation (which can be applied to other areas: economic, social, cultural ...) reveals a terrible risk: progress of all kinds of populism and radicalism.

For that reason, it’s urgent to take measures to regenerate the Spanish democracy such as open lists, limitation of political charges, guarantee the independence of senior state agencies, approve a large national pact against corruption, encourage internal democracy political parties, the direct election of mayors, the promotion of the revolving door, etc. In other words: to prick the bubble of the current partitocracy.

dimarts, 20 de novembre de 2012

¿Cómo han de ser los think tanks transparentes y plurales?

En contraposición con los Estados Unidos, en Europa ―y por extensión en España― los think tanks se caracterizan por ser menos visibles, estar más vinculados a los partidos políticos y tener un nivel bajo de transparencia y responsabilidad. En relación con este último extremo, proponemos una serie de recomendaciones para hacer más transparentes y plurales los laboratorios de ideas españoles.

Responsabilidad. Determinar de forma clara y concisa la misión del think tank: objetivos, intereses y métodos.

Pluralidad. La composición del patronato dice mucho sobre la tendencia de un think tank. Una institución plural ha de tener un patronato que refleje la pluralidad democrática. En este sentido, se recomienda que esté compuesto por algunos ex cargos políticos de diferente tendencia ideológica.

Transparencia. Una gran medida de transparencia consiste en facilitar el acceso a la información. Por este motivo, las páginas web de los think tanks tienen que explicitar la naturaleza de su financiación, mostrar los patrocinadores (en caso de haberlos) y tener accesibles online las memorias económicas (sobretodo en los casos de disponer de ayudas públicas).

Control. Superar auditorias independientes y veraces sobre el funcionamiento y el estado de las cuentas del think tank.

Calidad. Situar la calidad como un objetivo irrenunciable en todas las actividades que realiza un think tank: estudios, publicaciones, conferencias, seminarios, formación... Si una actividad no reportará conocimiento de calidad no se debe realizar. El prestigio de un catalizador de ideas se mide por su nivel de calidad.

Independencia. No permanecer a la merced de intereses políticos, ideológicos, económicos o corporativos. El rigor de un verdadero laboratorio de ideas es incompatible con el tacticismo de los intereses privados. El conocimiento estratégico se fundamenta en la investigación científica, rigorosa y eficaz. 

La diferencia entre un think tank y una plataforma de agitación y propaganda reside en el cumplimiento de estas recomendaciones. Un auténtico think tank no solo ha de serlo, sino parecerlo

dijous, 15 de novembre de 2012

IPPR on BBC Daily Politics: What do think tanks do?

IPPR director Nick Pearce speaks to the BBC's Daily Politics show to explain the role of think tanks in the creation of public policy in Britain, helping politicians to look ahead beyond immediate pressures and coming up with innovative policy ideas and solutions. In response, Conservative MP Karen Lumley said that she should come up with her own ideas.