How corruption weakens democracy

How corruption weakens democracy

This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis in democracy around the world. 

Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption

Patricia Moreira Managing Director Transparency International.

The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

More than two-thirds of countries score below 50 on this year’s CPI, with an average score of just 43. 

While there are exceptions, the data shows that despite some progress, most countries are failing to make serious inroads against corruption.

Results

The top countries are Denmark and New Zealand with scores of 88 and 87, respectively. The bottom countries are Somalia, Syria and South Sudan with scores of 10, 13 and 13, respectively. 

While no country earns a perfect score on the CPI, countries that tend to do best also protect democratic rights and values. 

In the last seven years, only 20 countries significantly improved their CPI scores, including Estonia, Senegal, Guyana and Côte D’Ivoire.

Equally troubling, 16 countries significantly decreased their scores, including Australia, Chile, Malta, Hungary and Turkey.  

Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 | Transparency International

Research analysis

This year, further research analysis shows a disturbing link between corruption and the health of democracies, where countries with higher rates of corruption also have weaker democratic institutions and political rights.

There are no full democracies that score below 50 on the CPI. Similarly, very few countries which have autocratic characteristics score higher than 50. 

Exemplifying this trend, the CPI scores for Hungary and Turkey decreased by eight and nine points respectively over the last six years. At the same time, Turkey was downgraded from "partly free" to "not free" by Freedom House, while Hungary registered its lowest score for political rights since the fall of communism in 1989.

These ratings reflect the deterioration of rule of law and democratic institutions, as well as a rapidly shrinking space for civil society and independent media, in those countries. 

Our research makes a clear link between having a healthy democracy and successfully fighting public sector corruption. Corruption is much more likely to flourish where democratic foundations are weak and, as we have seen in many countries, where undemocratic and populist politicians can use it to their advantage.

Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International 

Throughout the world, political leaders who run on a populist platform are gaining power and undermining democracy. High corruption rates can contribute to increased support for populist candidates. 

Regional analyses:

Countries to watch

With a score of 71, the United States lost four points since last year, dropping out of the top 20 countries on the CPI for the first time since 2011. The low score comes at a time when the US is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power.  

Brazil dropped two points since last year to 35, also earning its lowest CPI score in seven years. Alongside promises to end corruption, the country’s new president has made it clear that he will rule with a strong hand, threatening many of the democratic milestones achieved to date.

With a score of 59, the Czech Republic increased two points since 2017 and eight points since 2014. However, events in the past year suggest gains may be fragile. The prime minister has been found guilty of conflict of interest in relation to his media holdings and accused of another conflict of interest over connections to a company that has received millions of euros in EU subsidies.

Trouble at the top

Even top scoring countries like Denmark are not immune to corruption. While the CPI shows the Danish public sector to be one of the cleanest in the world, corruption still exists, as seen with recent scandals involving Danske Bank.

Read more.

Recommendations

To help stop corruption and strengthen democracy around the world, Transparency International calls on all governments to:

See the full CPI 2018 Results

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For any press enquiries please contact press@transparency.org

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What people think: corruption in the Middle East & North Africa

Momentum has been building against corruption for years in the Middle East and North Africa. From Lebanon and Sudan, where millions of people took to the streets earlier this year to speak out against their governments, to the Arab revolutions that toppled corrupt leaders nearly a decade ago, people are fed up with rampant corruption across the region.

Wasta: How personal connections are denying citizens opportunities and basic services

In many Arab countries the use of personal connections, or “wasta” in Arabic, is a common practice and a social norm. People use their family or social contacts to skip the line and gain quicker and better access to basic goods and services. How much you can increase the speed and quality of your service often depends on who you know – the higher the better, of course.

Sextortion: Middle East and North Africa

Sextortion is one of the most significant forms of gendered corruption and although women’s rights have advanced unevenly across the Middle East and North Africa, positive momentum has been building in the region over the last decade.

Lack of political integrity is undermining trust in democracy in Middle East and North Africa

The Global Corruption Barometer – Middle East and North Africa 2019 reveals that leaders in the region are perceived as acting in their own self-interest at the expense of the citizens they are meant to serve. This has serious consequences for trust in democratic institutions.

آراء المواطنين:  الفساد في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا

لقد تزايد زخم التنديد بالفساد خلال السنوات الماضية في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا. وضاق الناس ذرعا بالفساد المستشري في مختلف أنحاء المنطقة، من لبنان والسودان، حيث خرج ملايين الناس إلى الشوارع في مطلع هذا العام للتنديد بصوت عال بممارسات حكوماتهم، إلى الثورات العربية التي أطاحت بالزعماء الفاسدين منذ زهاء عشر سنوات.

الرشوة الجنسية: منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا

على الرغم من تفاوت التقدم المُحرز على مستوى حقوق المرأة في مختلف أنحاء الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا، شهدت المنطقة زخما إيجابيا تنامى تدريجيا خلال العقد الماضي. إذ أصبح عدد أكبر من النساء يُعبّرن عن أنفسهن داعيات إلى تعزيز تمثيل المرأة في الحكومة وتجريم العنف المنزلي وتحقيق المساواة في الحقوق للنساء والفتيات، إلى جانب عدد من المسائل الأخرى التي تهم المرأة. وتُناضل النساء في مختلف دول المنطقة من أجل إعلاء كلمتهن.

حرمان المواطنين من مختلف الفرص والخدمات الأساسية  بسبب استغلال آخرين لعلاقاتهم الشخصية

يُعتبر استغلال العلاقات الشخصية في البلدان العربية، أو ما يُعبّر عنه بالواسطة، مُمارسة منتشرة ومُتعارف عليها اجتماعيا. إذ يستغل مختلف الأشخاص علاقاتهم الأسرية أو الاجتماعية لعدم الوقوف في الصف وللوصول على نحو أسرع وأفضل إلى المدارس أو الجامعات أو المستشفيات أو الوظائف، و"لتعجيل" الإجراءات الإدارية في المؤسسات الحكومية مثل تجديد وثائق الهوية أو شهادات الميلاد. وتعتمد عادة سرعة حصولك على الخدمة وجودتها على الشخص الذي تعرفه؛ فبطبيعة الحال، كلما كان في منصب أعلى كان ذلك أفضل لك.

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