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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, independent from private interests, and not using power to maintain the office holder’s own wealth and position.

Understandings of ‘public interest’ are ever evolving and at times hotly debated. What is 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.
  • That all stakeholders have inclusive, open and meaningful opportunities to equally influence decision-making.
  • Political decisions and power holders are subject to scrutiny by the public and institutional checks and face 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 position for private gain.

These include:

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

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 combine 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
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