People's Stories Democracy


How corruption impacts political integrity
by Transparency International
 
Jan. 2020
 
This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) reveals that a majority of countries are showing little to no improvement in tackling corruption.
 
Our analysis also shows corruption is more pervasive in countries where big money can flow freely into electoral campaigns and where governments listen only to the voices of wealthy or well-connected individuals.
 
The index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people. It 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. Similar to previous years, the data shows that despite some progress, a majority of countries are still failing to tackle public sector corruption effectively.
 
Delia Ferreira Rubio Chair of Transparency International saiys, ''Governments must urgently address the corrupting role of big money in political party financing and the undue influence it exerts on our political systems''.
 
The top countries are New Zealand and Denmark, with scores of 87 each, followed by Finland (86), Singapore (85), Sweden (85) and Switzerland (85).
 
The bottom countries are Somalia, South Sudan and Syria with scores of 9, 12 and 13, respectively. These countries are closely followed by Yemen (15), Venezuela (16), Sudan (16), Equatorial Guinea (16) and Afghanistan (16).
 
In the last eight years, only 22 countries significantly improved their CPI scores, including Greece, Guyana and Estonia. In the same period, 21 countries significantly decreased their scores, including Canada, Australia and Nicaragua. In the remaining 137 countries, the levels of corruption show little to no change.
 
This year, Western Europe and the EU is the highest scoring region with an average of 66/100, while Sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest scoring region with 32 points. Both regions have kept an unchanged average since last year.
 
This year, our research highlights the relationship between politics, money and corruption. Keeping big money out of politics is essential to ensuring political decision-making serves the public interest and curbing opportunities for corrupt deals. Countries that perform well on the CPI have strong enforcement of campaign finance regulations. Countries that perform well on the CPI also have broader consultation in policy decisions.
 
''To have any chance of ending corruption and improving peoples’ lives, we must tackle the relationship between politics and big money. All citizens must be represented in decision-making'', says Patricia Moreira Managing Director of Transparency International.
 
With a score of 77, Canada fallen four points since last year and, more significantly, seven points since 2012. Low enforcement of anti-corruption laws is evident in the recent case against SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian construction company, which allegedly paid US$48 million in bribes to Libyan officials.
 
Following four decades of military dictatorship, Angola (26) rose seven points in this year’s CPI. Although the country has recovered US$5 billion in stolen assets, more needs to be done to strengthen integrity and promote transparency in accounting for oil revenue.
 
With a score of 53, Saudi Arabia improved by four points since last year. However, its score does not reflect its dismal human rights record and severe restrictions on journalists, political activists and other citizens. As Saudi Arabia takes on the presidency of the G20 this year, the country must end its crackdown on civil liberties.
 
While the CPI shows top-scoring countries like Denmark and Switzerland to be among the cleanest in the world, corruption still exists, particularly in cases of money laundering and other private sector corruption.
 
To end corruption and restore trust in politics, it is imperative to prevent opportunities for political corruption and to foster the integrity of political systems.
 
Transparency International recommends:
 
Manage conflicts of interest. Control political financing. Strengthen electoral integrity. Regulate lobbying activities. Empower citizens. Tackle preferential treatment. Reinforce checks and balances.
 
* Check out the CPI 2019 report for full recommendations via the link below.


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Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age releases final report
by Laura Chinchilla, Alan Doss
 
Jan. 2020
 
Safeguarding the Legitimacy of Elections: The Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age puts forward urgent recommendations to governments and internet platforms to safeguard the legitimacy of elections.
 
The Kofi Annan Commission calls for urgent action by governments, business and civil society to protect democracy from digital threats. The final report of the Commission sets out actionable recommendations in five major areas: polarization, hate speech, disinformation, political advertising and foreign interference.
 
This report comes at an inflection point; approximately 80 elections will be held in 2020 and if action is not taken, the integrity of these elections and the legitimacy of the outcome may be called into question.
 
The report is the culmination of the Commission’s work over the last year, which included extensive consultations in every continent.
 
Laura Chinchilla, Chair of the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age, explained: “Much of global attention has been on digital threats and foreign manipulation of elections afflicting Western countries. For the first time, we take a particular look at the Global South, where new democracies or those in transition are particularly vulnerable to digital threats but where promising democratic developments are also taking place.”
 
Based on these, and other key findings, the Commission recommends measures to strengthen norms and build capacity, with specific actions by public authorities and internet platforms, including:
 
Governments should establish an international convention regulating cross-border engagement to distinguish legitimate electoral assistance from illicit or unlawful interventions.
 
Countries must adapt their political advertising regulations to the online environment. In particular, the definition of political advertising should be a matter of law, defined by governments, and not left up to digital platforms.
 
Industry, governments and civil society actors concerned about the integrity of elections should create a global code of conduct defining the role of political consultancies and vendors of election equipment.
 
The Commission calls on governments to compel digital platforms to release their data to independent researchers. Without this critical information, a comprehensive assessment of the impact of technology on democracy cannot be completed and will continue to pose threats to the democratic process.
 
Social media platforms should create a coalition to address digital threats to democracy, as they have done collaboratively to address terrorism or child exploitation.
 
Alan Doss, President of the Kofi Annan Foundation added: “Mr Annan cared deeply about democracy and established this Commission to ensure that the power of digital technologies could be harnessed to empower and engage citizens. The Commission was his last major policy initiative and is a fitting testament to his legacy as a defender of the right of people to have a say in how they are governed, and by whom.”
 
* Access the report via the link below.


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