Skip to main content

Political integrity

Photo: / Paweł Czerwiński

Holding the powerful to account for the common good

Political integrity means exercising political power consistently in the public interest, independently of private interests, and not using power to maintain the own wealth and position.

The understanding of ‘public interest’ is continually evolving and, at times, hotly debated. What remains clear, is that political integrity is only possible when safeguards exist throughout the political process:

  • The process to elect, appoint, or select those who hold power is free from the undue influence of vested interests.
  • All stakeholders have inclusive, open, and meaningful opportunities to equally influence decision-making.
  • Political decisions and those holding power are subject to scrutiny by the public and institutional checks, with consequences for using power for private gain.

Undisclosed, unchecked, or undue influence over the powerful skews resources and policies away from the common good. It perpetuates inequality, undermines democracy, and deprives people of their human rights.

Political corruption is the manipulation of policies, institutions, rules of procedure, and decisions by political decision-makers to abuse their positions for private gain.

These include:

  • Gross conflicts of interest, where elected politicians, their families, or associates hold substantial business interests.
  • The misuse of state resources, such as embezzling or investing in unnecessary projects shortly before election campaigns.
  • The influence of “Godfathers” or businesses supporting political candidates to turn them into their clients.

In each case, the unethical exploitation of political power for personal benefits undermines the integrity of democratic processes and erodes public trust in governance.

Do your representatives consistently put the common good before their own?

Around the world, we work to ensure elections are fair, political party financing and lobbying are free from undue influence, illicit interests do not capture politics, politicians aren’t compromised by conflicts of interest, and state resources are not abused for either political or personal gain.

Building political integrity requires context-specific, comprehensive systems that integrate measures to prevent political corruption.

Breaking it down

Curbing the influence of big money

  • Opaque and uneven political financing;
  • Abuse of public resources to buy or influence votes
  • Transparent political appointments

Equal influence

  • Redefining the terms of corporate political engagement
  • What are politicians’ professional background—what are their proven vested interests
  • Who influences their decisions and legislation?
  • Fair and transparent allocation of public resources, inclusive access to public goods and services

Accountable power

  • Robust checks and balances
  • No unjustified immunities or privileges


  • Campaign and Party Finance
  • Lobbying
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Revolving Doors
Illustration of money flows from a low-income country with high levels of corruption to an advanced economy

CPI 2021: Trouble at the top

News •

The 2021 CPI shows that top-scoring countries’ complacency has been detrimental not only to global anti-corruption efforts but also to their own affairs.


+ More


+ More

Explore all priorities