Bulgaria 2011

Filed under - Surveys

Published by Transparency International Bulgaria on 1 March 2012

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The problem of corruption became a central political and social concern in Bulgaria towards the end of the 1990s, and since then has topped the governmental agenda. Despite the prioritization of the issue, Bulgaria has systematically demonstrated very high levels of perception of corruption: according to the TI Corruption Perception Index (2011) it is the lowest scoring country in the EU. If there is a trend in this regard, it is rather negative, which is formally paradoxical since, due to internal and external pressures, successive governments have introduced a series of institutional reforms and innovations in the field of anticorruption. Further, in political terms the last decade has been one of the most successful in Bulgarian history: the country had a long spell of uninterrupted economic growth (until 2009), became a member of the EU in 2007, and thus far has weathered the economic crisis better than many of the other European states.

From this perspective the study of the integrity system of Bulgaria is of particular interest. It raises in an acute form the issue of the effectiveness of anticorruption measures in an environment of widespread corruption perceptions, in which governments feel compelled to make reforms and introduce institutions with anticorruption raison d'être.

One of the main issues emerging from our research is that there is a systematic discrepancy between the scores for legal framework and actual practice and performance of different institutions in the anticorruption field. The reasons for this discrepancy can be various, but two stand out in particular. First, the legal framework has to stimulate the emergence of informal practices supportive of a given institution. Not everything could be dictated by the law, and where there are discretionary powers, officials should exercise good judgement, and should aim to achieve the best result from the point of view of the public interest. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in Bulgaria. For example, the Supreme Judicial Council – the main body responsible for the personnel policy in the judiciary – enjoys (in a comparative perspective) a very high level of institutional autonomy according to the law. Yet, in its practice, it has been involved in a series of scandals, which have suggested that there have been external influences on its decisions. In order for such problems to be eliminated, institutional reforms may be insufficient to eliminate such problems: ultimately, there should be a strong professional ethics helping the officials to take a full advantage of specific possibilities given to them by the law.

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Country / Territory - Bulgaria   
Language(s) - Bulgarian   |   English   
Topic - Governance   |   Judiciary   |   Media   |   Politics and government   |   Private sector   |   Surveys   
Tags - NIS   |   National Integrity Study   |   National Integrity System Assessments   |   Infographic   

NIS assessments contact

Andy McDevitt
Programme Coordinator, Public Sector Integrity
+49 30 3438 20 720

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