Parties Are Most
Corrupt Institution Worldwide
9, 2004 --- The
public around the world perceive political parties as the institution
most affected by corruption, according to a new public opinion survey
published today by Transparency International (TI) to mark UN International
TI is the leading global non-governmental organization devoted to
combating corruption worldwide.
In 36 out of 62 countries surveyed, political parties were rated by
the general public as the institution most affected by corruption.
On a scale from a corrupt-free 1 to an extremely corrupt score of
5, parties ranked worst worldwide, with a score of 4.0, faring most
poorly in Ecuador, followed by Argentina, India and Peru. At the same
time, the public rated political or grand corruption as a very grave
problem, and reported that in most countries surveyed corruption affected
political life more than business and private life.
After political parties, the next most corrupt institutions worldwide
were perceived to be parliaments followed equally by the police and
the judiciary, according to the TI Global Corruption Barometer 2004.
The survey included more than 50,000 respondents from the general
public in a total of 64 countries and was conducted for TI by Gallup
International as part of its Voice of the People Survey between June
and September 2004 .
“It is time to use international co-operation to enforce a policy
of zero tolerance of political corruption and to put an end to practices
whereby politicians put themselves above the law - stealing from ordinary
citizens and hiding behind parliamentary immunity,” said TI
Board member and President of TI Cameroon, Akere Muna, speaking in
“Political parties and the politicians they nominate for election
are entrusted with great power and great hopes by the people who vote
for them. Political leaders must not abuse that trust by serving corrupt
or selfish interests once they are in power,” said Akere Muna.
Across the globe today, the first UN International Anti-Corruption
Day, TI’s national chapters will be applying pressure on governments
and parliaments to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption, which
requires 30 ratifications before coming into force and has 12 so far.
The UN Convention will make it easier both to seize assets stolen
by politicians and to return them to their rightful beneficiaries.
It will also facilitate the extradition of corrupt leaders who have
sought asylum abroad.
In five of the countries surveyed (Cameroon, Kenya, Lithuania, Moldova
and Nigeria), at least one in three people said that they or members
of their household had paid a bribe in the past 12 months. The TI
Global Corruption Barometer 2004 also indicates that the poor are
most affected by corruption. Half of respondents on a low income believed
that petty corruption was a very big problem, while 38 per cent of
high-income respondents felt the same. The poor also reported the
biggest impact of corruption on their personal and family lives.
This year’s TI Global Corruption Barometer reveals that people
around the world remain pessimistic – one in five believes that
corruption will increase a lot in the coming three years. “We
still have reason to be encouraged – the public obviously is
aware of the problem, and concerned to see a change," said Akere
Muna. "Anti-Corruption Day offers an opportunity and a challenge
to those in political power to break corruption’s hold, and
to engage with the public to solicit support for anti-corruption measures
that can demonstrably clean up political life,” he underlined.
Institutions at risk
The public’s choice of political parties as the most corrupt
institution also confirms the findings of last year’s TI Global
Corruption Barometer. Commenting on this result, Cobus de Swardt,
Global Programmes Director at the TI International Secretariat, stated:
“Political parties are the training ground for most government
leaders and parliamentarians. National laws should prohibit political
parties and candidates for elected office from accepting donations
designed to extract personal or policy favours, and require them to
disclose their funding sources. Political parties must themselves
take internal measures to stamp out corruption and increase transparency,
through fair candidate selection procedures, by running clean election
campaigns, rejecting corrupt sources of funding and disclosing the
sources of donations."
But political parties were not the institutions regarded as most corrupt
in all countries. According to the TI Global Corruption Barometer
2004, respondents in Argentina, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and
Ukraine rated parliaments/legislatures as being at least as corrupt
as political parties, if not more.
In Cameroon, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova,
Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine,
the police were fingered as the most corrupt institution. In Afghanistan,
Croatia, (the former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia and Venezuela,
the judiciary/legal system was identified as the institution most
affected by corruption.
In Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Norway and Singapore, the private sector/business
was identified as most affected by corruption. In Portugal and Turkey,
tax revenue authorities were deemed the most corrupt, and in Albania,
Bulgaria, Cameroon, Kosovo, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine,
customs authorities were singled out as most affected by corruption,
although sometimes scoring equally poorly to other institutions and
Grand and petty corruption: which is
the bigger problem?
Across the world, grand or political corruption – corruption
at the highest levels of society, by leading elites and major companies
– was identified as a very big problem by 57 per cent of respondents.
Fewer (45 per cent) cited petty or administrative corruption –
corruption in ordinary people’s daily lives, such as bribes
paid for licences or traffic violations – as a very big problem.
Nevertheless, both grand and petty corruption were judged as significant
obstacles, with about 8 out of 10 of those surveyed citing them as
a very big or fairly big problem in their country.
Cobus de Swardt commented: “Political corruption is an insidious
crime, with both a supply and demand component. The international
business community, as well as elected officials, must accept responsibility
for the grave concern expressed around the globe about the scope of,
and damage caused by, grand corruption.”
Petty or administrative corruption was not considered to be an issue
in the majority of industrialized countries surveyed, but was especially
discounted in Nordic countries and Singapore. Exceptions – where
petty corruption was regarded as significant – included France,
Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, where grand corruption was also
considered as grave a problem as in developing countries.
In Brazil, 99 per cent of respondents regarded both petty and grand
corruption as very or fairly big problems. The public in Ecuador and
Turkey also rated both as significant problems.
What impact does corruption have on me
and my country?
The impact of corruption on political life was viewed as a bigger
concern than corruption’s impact on personal/family life or
on the business environment. In Western Europe, more than five out
of 10 in France, Greece, Ireland and Italy felt that corruption had
a large impact on political life in their country. In the Netherlands,
however, the result was only one in 10.
In Central and Eastern Europe, half or more than half of those surveyed
in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania,
Moldova, Poland, Romania and Ukraine believed that corruption had
a large impact on political life. Among the African countries surveyed,
Nigerians expressed the strongest belief that corruption affected
political life to a large extent, with six out of 10 sharing this
opinion. In Bolivia, Brazil and Peru, nearly eight out of 10 were
very concerned at corruption’s impact on political life, compared
with six out of 10 in Argentina and Mexico, and just three out of
10 in Guatemala and Venezuela. Elsewhere in the world, nearly two
out of three Israelis, South Koreans and Taiwanese shared the view
that corruption affected political life to a large extent.
The general public in Japan, Singapore and most Western European countries
showed dramatically little concern about the impact of corruption
on the business environment, with the exception of Italy and Greece,
where nearly five out of 10 respondents believed that corruption affected
business to a large extent. Among Central and East Europeans, Bosnia
and Herzegovina and Croatia expressed the most concern about the influence
of corruption on the business environment. In Cameroon, Ghana and
Kenya, as well as in Turkey, South Korea and Taiwan, about one in
two respondents indicated that corruption affected business to a large
extent. In Brazil and Peru, close to six out of 10 said that corruption
had a large impact on business.
Differences emerged between developed and developing countries when
respondents were asked about the impact of corruption on personal
and family life. Corruption’s impact was seen to be very low
in most developed countries, with the exceptions of Canada, Greece,
Hong Kong, Israel, Taiwan and the United States, where four out of
10 said that corruption affected their personal life to a moderate
or large extent. A large negative personal impact was reported by
more than one in three in Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil,
Ecuador, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines
Who pays bribes?
Worldwide, 10 per cent of respondents said that they or members of
their household had paid a bribe in the previous 12 months. In Cameroon,
a majority of those surveyed admitted to one of their household paying
a bribe during the past year. In European Union countries, 11 per
cent of Greeks also reported this experience. South Africans, in contrast,
admitted paying bribes at similarly low levels to most developed countries.
Does the public think corruption is getting
better or worse?
Turning to expectations of the future, 45 per cent of respondents
worldwide expected the level of corruption to increase in the next
three years, compared with only 17 per cent who expected it to decrease.
These findings mean that the hopes of people around the world have
not improved since the TI Global Corruption Barometer was carried
out in 2003.
The most pessimistic countries were Costa Rica and Ecuador, with three
out of four anticipating a rise. Indonesia was the most optimistic
country, with two out of three respondents forecasting a reduction
in corruption in the coming years. Many Central and Eastern European
countries/territories expressed more modest optimism, with those in
Georgia and Kosovo particularly optimistic.
In five Latin American countries, above-average percentages of respondents
indicated that they felt corruption would increase a lot in the coming
three years. Of the African countries surveyed, Nigerians were the
most pessimistic, and Ghanaians most optimistic. Indians were very
pessimistic, with eight out of 10 predicting a rise in corruption
over the next three years, compared with less than six out of 10 in
Pakistan. Seven out of 10 Filipinos also replied that they thought
corruption would increase. Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal
and Switzerland were the countries in Western Europe where the general
public expected levels of corruption to increase in years to come.
Greece and Ireland were the most optimistic.
© CONTACTO Magazine
Published on December 10, 2004
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