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What is Venality definition/concept/elaboration

The word venality is often used when an act of corruption takes place, usually a bribe. In this sense, when an individual gets some kind of financial reward for not complying with his economic obligations , it means that he is committing a venality.

The noun  venality corresponds to the adjective  venal, which means being willing to sell.

In Roman Civilization and the Middle Ages some public offices were bought

Although the word venality is a mirror of “bribery” or “kickback”, in other historical times this concept was institutionalized and was not understood as a criminal action. Thus, in order to have access to certain relevant public positions, it was necessary to pay a fixed amount of money. This system was known as job venality.

Through this, it was possible to achieve a double objective: the governor who facilitated this system of purchasing positions managed to get the beneficiaries on his side and, in compensation, there would be an increase in the public coffers.

The venality of public office was a common practice in France until the 17th century, but this system was abolished due to the negative consequences it generated:

Families with economic power obtained political power by buying certain positions, these being hereditary positions on many occasions. Consequently, those who bought public office as well as their heirs became feudal lords with wide powers.

In Spain there was also the venality of public office as an official mechanism for achieving power. This system was especially used in the territories of America conquered by the Spaniards. Thus, public positions related to justice , public finances and the military establishment were bought . Each position had a fixed price depending on its importance, and the amounts that management got were known as venal provisions.

From the venality of positions to bribery

The system of purchasing public office of other times was part of the system of access to administration. Over time, the principle of equality between all citizens was introduced and the venality of public office ceased to exist.

However, its disappearance did not mean the end of corruption in the administration. In this sense, when a public office is bribed, the one who accepts commits the crime of bribery.

In the crime of bribery, the state official who allows himself to be corrupted by accepting the payment of a bribe is punished, as is the individual who offers or agrees to pay such a bribe to the public official.

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