27 May 2012

Corruption Unchanged After Egypt’s Revolution

An article by Anna Nadgrodkiewicz discusses how many questions remain about what can be expected of Egypt’s democratic transition over a year after Hosni Mubarak was ousted. Among some of the issues that arise is the concern that the rupture with old corrupt practices in the public administration may not have been so radical as expected by protesters and the opposition to the previous regime.

Many citizens are pessimistice about real change taking place any time soon, as they continue to experience bribe requests when coming in contact with public services. According to Tarek Mahmoud, “it turned out that ousting Mubarak was easy but removing his corruption is mission impossible”. It is also feared that grand corruption will continue at the same level as before, unless substantial institutional reforms are implemented to improve the functioning of the political system.

Apparently, as shown during the recent electoral campaign, fighting corruption is not among the main policy issues on the political agenda. This is particularly worrisome in a context where corruption seems to have become so widespread and ingrained among citizens, who find no alternative other than pay bribes to public officials to obtain documents and licenses, among other things.

In fact, it is believed that weak law enforcement has led to an increase in petty corruption since the revolution, something that may also be associated with the high level of informality in Egypt, where 92% of urban property owners don’t have official titles and 82% of businesses are run informally.

According to the author, reforms to improve the foundations of democratic governance, such as accountability, rule of law and access to information, are needed together with others that help reduce incentives and opportunities to corruption, such as cutting red tape and promoting entrepreneurship.

For more details read the article “Anti-Corruption Views – Will corruption undermine Egypt’s transition?” on trust.org. The picture above is also featured in the article and is credited to Reuters/Amr Dalsh.