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.

Corruption: Diagnosis and Treatment

Political corruption poses a serious threat to democracy and its consolidation. Many anticorruption initiatives fail because they are nonpolitical in nature, while most of the corruption in developing and postcommunist countries is inherently political. Successfully fighting this kind of corruption requires far more than instituting best practices from advanced democracies. Electoral revolutions can lead to consolidated democracies only if they are followed by revolutions against particularism. Nothing short of such a revolution will succeed in curbing corruption in countries where particularism prevails.