Transitions to Good Governance: Creating Virtuous Circles of Anti-corruption

Why have so few countries managed to leave systematic corruption behind, while in many others modernization is still a mere façade? How do we escape the trap of corruption, to reach a governance system based on ethical universalism? In this unique book, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and Michael Johnston lead a team of eminent researchers on an illuminating path towards deconstructing the few virtuous circles in contemporary governance. The book combines a solid theoretical framework with quantitative evidence and case studies from around the world. While extracting lessons to be learned from the success cases covered, Transitions to Good Governance avoids being prescriptive and successfully contributes to the understanding of virtuous circles in contemporary good governance.

Offering a balanced but always grounded perspective, this collection combines analytic narratives of existing virtuous circles and how they were established, with an analysis of the global evidence. In doing so the authors explain why governance is so resistant to change, and describe the lessons to be remembered for international anti-corruption efforts. Exploring the primacy of politics over economic development, and in order to understand how vicious circles can be broken, the expert contributions trace the progress of countries that have successfully transitioned. Unprecedentedly, this book goes beyond the tests of different variables to showcase human agency on every continent, and reveals why some nations make the best and others the worst of the same development legacies.

This comprehensive examination of virtuous circles of governance will appeal to all scholars with an interest in transitions, democratization, anti-corruption and good governance. Policy-makers and practitioners in the fields of international development, good governance and democracy support will find it an invaluable resource.

Reviews for this publication

“Vicious cycles, where corruption breeds corruption, present special challenges. Nevertheless, some success stories exist. The case studies in this edited volume highlight reforms that created virtuous cycles, where honesty breeds honesty. Nevertheless, the authors caution that reforms may be fragile and incomplete if policies do not shift expectations and behavior sufficiently enough toward a new, less-corrupt status quo.”

Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale University

Process-tracing report on Estonia

In controlling corruption, Estonia is an obvious top-achiever in comparison with the rest of the post-socialist area countries. Some historical legacies apparently facilitated this state of affairs – Estonia was by and large the wealthiest republic of the Soviet Union with the most developed elements of autonomous civil society and considerable exposure to Western information. The strong anti-communist and nationalist mood of Estonians appear to be a key driving force behind the drastic replacement of the ruling elite, which culminated in the 1992 parliamentary elections. This report explores the replacement of the old Communist nomenclature, provides insights into some of the reforms undertaken and the roles of their proponents.The ruling groups changed again in 1995 but the governments of 1995-1999 were probably too short-lived, too weak and indeed not reactionary enough to reverse many of the positive effects of the reforms of the previous period. New legal guarantees of public access to information and broad access to online public services came after 1999 to serve as another layer of constraints on corruption. It can be surmised that a virtuous circle developed, perpetuated in the interplay between, on the one hand, pressures of public opinion requiring efficient and universalistic governance and, on the other hand, initiatives from government in response to public needs. Episodes of corrupt particularistic acts are still recurrent in Estonia but they do not outweigh the overall success.

Understanding governance virtuous circles: who succeeded and why

Why do some societies manage to control extraction of public resources in favour of particular interests, so that it only manifests itself occasionally, as an exception (corruption), while others societies do not and remain systemically corrupt? Is the superior performance of the first group of countries a result of what they do, or of who they are?

ERCAS is hosting a conference at the European Academy in Grunewald, Berlin from 8-12 July 2015 that will address these questions. The conference, ‘Understanding Governance Virtuous Circles. Who succeeded and why’ is part of the EU FP7 research project ANTICORRP: Anticorruption Policies Revisited: Global Trends and European Responses to the Challenge of Corruption. Our researchers have identified seven countries (Uruguay, Estonia, Chile, Costa Rica, Taiwan, South Korea and Georgia) as the most successful in achieving control of corruption in the past 25 years. We would like to address why and how these countries have been successful and what lessons can be learned from them.

Spaces are extremely limited, but the conference will be live tweeted and a conference report will be published by Cambridge University Press.

 

Speakers:

  • Dr. Mart Laar (ex-prime Minister, Estonia) (by video)
  • Prof. Robert Klitgaard (Claremont Graduate University)
  • Prof. Larry Diamond (Stanford University)
  • Mr. Philip Keefer (World Bank)
  • Prof. Michael Johnston (Colgate University)
  • Prof. Adam Graycar (Australian National University)
  • Prof. Eric Uslaner (University of Maryland)
  • Prof. Ryan Saylor (University of Tulsa)
  • Dr. Mark Plattner (Journal of Democracy)
  • Dr. Natalia Matukhno (Centre for the Study of Public Policy/School of Government and Public Policy)
  • Dr. Martin Mendelski (University of Trier)
  • Dr. Mark Pyman (TI Defense and Security UK)
  • Dr. Daniel Buquet (Universidad de la República de Uruguay)
  • Prof. Bruce Wilson (University of Central Florida Costa Rica)
  • Prof. Patricio Navia (Universidad Diego Portales/New York University)
  • Prof. Paul Felipe Lagunes (Columbia University)
  • Dr. Valts Kalnins (Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS)
  • Dr. Alexander Kupatadze (University College London)
  • Dr. Marianne Camerer (University of Cape Town)
  • Dr. Halyna Kokhan (UNDP Ukraine)
  • Dr. Anastassia Obydenkova (Harvard University)
  • Prof. Christian Göbel (University of Vienna)
  • Dr. Yong-sung You (The Australian National University)
  • Dr. Mihaly Fazekas (Corvinius University of Budapest)
Agenda Virtuous Circle Conference – Current as of 05 July 2015.

 

Conference papers:

 

Helpful documents:

 

 

The Splintering of Postcommunist Europe

There are two radically different versions of the postcommunist narrative. One tells the triumphal tale of the only world region in which the reforms recommended by the “Washington consensus” worked. The other and more realistic account speaks of a historic window of opportunity that lasted for only a quarter-century, during which efforts by the West and patriotic elites of Central and Eastern Europe managed to drag the region into Europe proper, leaving Europe and Russia pitted against each other along the old “civilizational” border between them. This essay argues that while Institutional choices matter in the postcommunist world, geopolitical and civilizational boundaries still set the horizons of political possibility.

Background paper on Estonia

As in all transition countries, corruption has been and remains a concern for Estonia. Still the country is an obvious top-achiever in comparison with the rest of the post-communist area. On the other hand, the last decade has been stable with the level of corruption almost unchanged and representing a certain plateau in development. The Estonian governance regime operates mostly in line with the principle of ethical universalism. Reportedly all key elements of the state are subject to quite high formal standards of transparency. Correct functioning of the public procurement system is the rule, and violations, although common, are more of an exception. Estonia appears to have a high level of equity of access to its education and healthcare systems.The search for causes of Estonia’s success often focuses on cultural factors. The high general level of interpersonal trust in the Estonian society is an unusual cultural feature of a post-soviet society. Plus the civil society and free media represent high normative constraints for corruption and particularism. It has been argued that in the beginning of 1990’s, Estonia experienced the most radical replacement of the political elite compared with Latvia and Lithuania where the old “nomenklatura” networks managed to perpetuate to a much larger extent. The new Estonian elite was willing and ready for thorough reforms of the judiciary and public administration.

The Anticorruption Report. Volume 1: Controlling Corruption in Europe

The first volume of the Anticorruption Report series provides a comprehensive analysis of causes and consequences of corruption in three European regions, presenting corruption risks for several European countries and concrete policy recommendations on how to effectively address those risks.

Print and e-book version of the report can be purchased here.

Batory Foundation Launches Website on Political Finance in 7 Countries

The Stefan Batory Foundation, in cooperation with other seven NGOs*, has launched the website www.politicalfinance.org, devoted to analysing the regulation systems of campaign and political party financing in 7 countries: Armenia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Moldova, Mongolia and Poland.

The website is the result of a research project initiated in February 2012, whose goal was to examine political finance regulation in each country from the perspective of the mechanisms protecting policy-making against undue influence of interest groups. In addition to preparing the seven individual country reports, the project also conducted a comparative analysis of the different systems and highlighted advantages and disadvantages of each one, emphasising arrangements that can be seen as best practice.

The country reports are published on the website and cover the specific features of each regulatory system, including an assessment of the effectiveness of adopted solutions, case studies and policy recommendations. In addition to the country-specific recommendations, three common recommendations for the participating countries have been developed: (a) to increase availability of information on donors and original invoices and receipts on party expenditures; (b) to  strengthen the role of public institutions responsible for the oversight of party financing; and (c) to provide long-term financing of political parties from the public budget. The analysis and recommendations are published in English and Russian language versions.

A more detailed analysis of the country reports allows for a closer overview of how the regulatory systems differ from country to country and the particularly weaknesses that each country’s system presents.  The Armenia country report shows, for instance, how the lack of sanctions to false financial reports by political parties or illegal donations to election funds negatively affects the political finance environment in the country. In Estonia, the possibility of cash donations severely hinders transparency regarding the funds that political parties and campaigns receive. In Georgia, differently than in other of the selected countries, the country report emphasises issues related to the unequal application of electoral laws to different parties, which jeopardises the fairness of political competition and the electoral process. Apart from specific issues that each country faces, there are common obstacles to more integrity and equity in political finance in some of the countries, such as the need for restrictions on private or corporate donations, and for increased transparency and detail in the disclosure of donations and expenditures.

The participants to the project hope that the initiative will stimulate further discussion on the need for reforms in the political party financing sector and further advocacy efforts. In the long term, this initiative aims to determine positive changes in the financing of political parties and to contribute to improving transparency in this field as well as to prevent corruption.

 

*The other organisations contributing to this project are: Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland); Stanczyk Institute of Civic Thought Foundation (Poland); Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) “Viitorul” (Moldova); Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) (Georgia); Transparency International Anti-Corruption Centre (Armenia); Transparency International Czech Republic; Transparency International Estonia; and Open Society Forum (Mongolia).

 

The Long Transition to Good Governance: the Case of Estonia. Looking at the changes in the governance regime and anti-corruption policy

This paper deals with the post-communist positive outlier Estonia, which made according to international comparisons perhaps the most spectacular progress in the world, from a totalitarian regime to a quality democracy in less than twenty years. The country has seen improvement in all four dimensions of control of corruption described in the equilibrium model of Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (2011) since the restoration of its independence in 1991. The changes in the different dimensions happened almost simultaneously. During the first government of Mart Laar (1992-1995), policies that reduced material resources and strengthened legal constraints were implemented. Estonia pioneered important liberal reforms, for instance the adoption of a flat tax which then became very trendy in Eastern Europe and a very advanced e-government inspired from the neighbouring Finland. It also had the most radical policy towards Soviet time judiciary, replacing most of it and restarting practically all over with new magistrates. Normative constraints are also high, with a public opinion intolerant of particularism, an active civil society and a free press. The paper tries to explain why Estonian elites succeeded in promoting good governance and anti-corruption measures more than most other Central and Eastern European countries. In addition, author is looking for integrative understanding how to improve the control of political and administrative corruption mechanisms via the better regulation measures (e.g. impact assessment, participation, simplification) and support of political motivation.

The Long Transition to Good Governance: the Case of Estonia. Looking at the changes in the governance regime and anti-corruption policy

This paper deals with the post-communist positive outlier Estonia, which made according to international comparisons perhaps the most spectacular progress in the world, from a totalitarian regime to a quality democracy in less than twenty years. The country has seen improvement in all four dimensions of control of corruption described in the equilibrium model of Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (2011) since the restoration of its independence in 1991. The changes in the different dimensions happened almost simultaneously. During the first government of Mart Laar (1992-1995), policies that reduced material resources and strengthened legal constraints were implemented. Estonia pioneered important liberal reforms, for instance the adoption of a flat tax which then became very trendy in Eastern Europe and a very advanced e-government inspired from the neighbouring Finland. It also had the most radical policy towards Soviet time judiciary, replacing most of it and restarting practically all over with new magistrates. Normative constraints are also high, with a public opinion intolerant of particularism, an active civil society and a free press. The paper tries to explain why Estonian elites succeeded in promoting good governance and anti-corruption measures more than most other Central and Eastern European countries. In addition, author is looking for integrative understanding how to improve the control of political and administrative corruption mechanisms via the better regulation measures (e.g. impact assessment, participation, simplification) and support of political motivation.

Control of Corruption: the Road to Effective Improvement. Lessons from Six Progress Cases

In the last two decades, the emergence of an international good governance agenda has fostered the implementation of anti-corruption efforts in several countries. Nevertheless, recent assessments of those efforts reveal that the vast majority of initiatives have not produced concrete positive results. Only a few countries have made considerable progress in reducing corruption, and there is still limited knowledge about what has determined their positive experiences. This paper attempts to contribute to this discussion by engaging in a comparative analysis of six countries that have improved in terms of control of corruption. These countries are: Uruguay, Estonia, Botswana, Taiwan, South Korea and Ghana. The framework for analysis is based on a model of corruption as a function of power discretion, material resources and legal and normative constraints (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2010). Additionally, particular attention is paid to the role of political agents as drivers of change, with a focus on political leaders, civil society, media and enforcement institutions.

Anti-Corruption Programmes, Studies and Projects in Estonia 1997-2009: an Overview

This Estonian report is made for the international research project “Civil society as anticorruption actor. What makes it work?” initiated by Romanian Academic Society. The general sample is including all Estonian anti-corruption programmes, audits and projects from 1998 to 2009. Both international donors’ reports and local projects were analysed.

The analysis of the local anti-corruption projects shows that usually there is available the information on planned outputs, outcomes and impacts of the projects, in many cases we can find also the achieved outputs and outcomes, but in most cases there is no concrete public information available on real impacts and sustainability factors of the anti-corruption projects.

Anti-Corruption Programmes, Studies and Projects in Estonia 1997-2009: an Overview

This Working Paper on Estonia is made for the international research project “Civil society as anticorruption actor. What makes it work?” initiated by Romanian Academic Society. The general sample is including all Estonian anti-corruption programmes, audits and projects from 1998 to 2009. Both international donors’ reports and local projects were analysed.

The analysis of the local anti-corruption projects shows that usually there is available the information on planned outputs, outcomes and impacts of the projects, in many cases we can find also the achieved outputs and outcomes, but in most cases there is no concrete public information available on real impacts and sustainability factors of the anti-corruption projects.

Increasing the Awareness of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian public Servants and Journalists about Internal Audit and Political Corruption

The aim of the project was to develop the national integrity system of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by restraining corruption through the training of public servants and journalists. One part of the project was the dissemination of the principles of good governance and relevant information using Internet.

Increasing Transparency of the Democratically Elected Institutions by Educating the Members of these institutions

The primary aim of the project was to increase the know-how of the local government and public officials about corruption to intensify the anti-corruption fight. Three seminars dealing with different aspects of corruption were organized. The support group was formed to analyze the concept of corruption based on the legislation and work out the amendments to the relevant laws, to improve cooperation between different institutions and compose publication about corruption. In 2001 a collection of articles entitled “Korruptsiooni võimalikkusest avalikus sektoris”” was published.”

Raising Awareness of the Essence of Corruption and Strengthening the Fight Against it in Estonian Society

The aim of the project was to increase the interest of the public in the essence of corruption and to call the relevant state structures for closer cooperation. The researches on the situation of legislation dealing with corruption in the Republic of Estonia were implemented resulting in written analysis. A seminar and conference “Corruption in Estonia”” also took place.”

Research About Corruption Distribution in Estonia

The survey was carried out in December 2001. 1008 respondents were involved in research all over Estonia. The objective of this project was to investigate how people understand corruption in the society and the distribution of corruption, and also to compare how these changed in comparison to a previous survey conducted in 1998. Results indicated that respondents have quite an adequate understanding about corruption and corruptive behaviour. Accordin to the results, the biggest change occured among people who had some kind of contact with corruption – number of respondants who experienced corruption decreased. In 1998 the percentage of respondants with no personal contact with corruption was 69,4%, whereas in 2001 it was 83,5%. This decrease was identified especially in the category of people with occasional contact with corruption (17,7% in 1998 and 6,1% in 2001); the percentage of individuals with frequent contact with corruption remained largely the same.

Strengthening the Local Government System Integrity by training Public Servants

The aim of the project was to develop the national integrity system of Estonia by restraining corruption through the training of public servants and journalists. One part of the project was the dissemination of the principles of good governance and relevant information using Internet. Three 2-days seminars were organized for the officials of local governments.