Islands of Good Government: Explaining Successful Corruption Control in Two Spanish Cities

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Islands of Good Government: Explaining Successful Corruption Control in Two Spanish Cities

  • Eliška Drápalová Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Fabrizio Di Mascio Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning, University of Turin, Italy

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Abstract:  Between 2012 and 2018, Spanish public opinion has been shaken by a seemingly endless series of corruption scandals, to the point that corruption has become one of the main long-term concerns of the Spanish population, according to nation-wide surveys. Despite the sharp rise in corruption scandals within local authorities, there are Spanish cities that have managed to limit corruption and build a transparent and efficient government, which stand out as islands of integrity and good governance. This article qualitatively investigates two cities in Spain—Alcobendas and Sant Cugat del Vallès—which, despite being in a region with comparatively lower quality of government, have managed to successfully control corruption. We argue that the key to success is the administrative reorganization prompted by the appointment of city managers that institutionalized professional management. Findings also have implications for practitioners, meaning that complex anti-corruption legislative frameworks will not work within an overburdened administration unless the administrative structure is reformed.

Keywords:  corruption; quality of government; integrity; political competition; Spain; transparency



© Eliška Drápalová, Fabrizio Di Mascio. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.