Last Monday, ESADE Madrid welcomed M. Dolores de Cospedal, Secretary General of the Spanish Partido Popular (People’s Party), as part of the season of Dinner-Discussions held by the ESADE Alumni Public Management Club.
The event was hosted by Óscar Cortés, the Club’s vice-president, who thanked the guest for coming and encouraged the attendees to take part in a professional and academic debate on the relationship between politics and Public Management. Rafael Catalá, Director of the Masters in Public Management, then presented M. Dolores de Cospedal’s professional history, highlighting the various political and bureaucratic positions she had held in the Civil Service.
M. Dolores de Cospedal began her talk with a declaration of principles about the prestige of a political position, the personal and emotional involvement that it requires, and how it is unavoidable that one’s ideology will come through in Public Management: this – she said – was how each person achieves the society they dream of, from the point of view of that ideology. She went on to use her own personal experiences to illustrate the possibility of getting into politics through Civil Service experience. This kind of experience provides technical and practical knowledge that may be very useful for the reality check needed in political proposals or, simply, for the freedom it gives to leave politics at the right moment, because it is not one’s only means of existence. Finally, she expressed her sadness at the low prestige in which the Spanish hold public servants (both politicians and workers); low prestige that she feels is undeserved.
After her talk, there was much discussion about the country’s political situation, as well as the inner workings of the party and other matters related to the subject in hand.
One of the most eagerly debated questions was about which was the best career path to follow to get into politics. M. Dolores de Cospedal suggested that one suitable path was the Civil Service, but added that successful business people could bring that success to political life. She certainly did not consider it counter-productive (except in certain cases), as she believed that the perfect profile for a politician would be someone who could see the big picture while working with a team of top-grade specialists.
Another much debated area was the inner workings of the parties, the importance of political apparatus, and how much power was in the hands of people who – unlike the cases discussed –had no professional experience outside the party itself. She was very self-critical here, explaining that due to the particratic model in Spain, parties are bureaucracies, power organisations that can work against internal democracy, transparency and the choice of the right person for the voters (as opposed to someone who has managed to get ahead within the party). She suggested that open listing could be part of the solution, although she also accepted that because they are people organisations, political parties need to have a structure and rules that guarantee that they run smoothly. She ended her talk by reminding us that voters also punish parties affected by in-fighting, and that systems like the primaries can give rise to manipulative, fraudulent behaviour which can lead to top positions.
The ESADE Alumni Public Management Club invites you to this dinner-discussion titled "The Important Role of Political Parties in Public Management", held by María Dolores de Cospedal, Secretary-General of the People’s Party.
Political parties are key institutions in the organisation of today’s states. The Spanish constitution expressly recognises them and assigns them a series of functions in public life. As a result, even though they do not form part of the administration, they are important actors in the design and implementation of public policies. A complete vision of public management must therefore include the perspective of the political parties.
The ESADE Alumni Public Management Club is hosting a dinner discussion featuring a leading figure within the People’s Party: María Dolores de Cospedal, a state lawyer with extensive experience in the management of different government bodies.
María Dolores de Cospedal García
Secretary-General of the People’s Party. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law from Madrid’s San Pablo-CEU University. She has held various public posts, including Deputy Secretary of the Spanish Ministry of the Interior, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure of the Community of Madrid, and Senator for the Community of Castile-La Mancha by virtue of parliamentary appointment.
At the 16th Congress of the People’s Party, when Mariano Rajoy was named the party’s national candidate for the presidency, she became the first woman to hold the post of Secretary-General.