How will corruption evolve in 2024?

REVIEWING THE PAST TO FORECAST THE FUTURE

Every year on December 9 the world celebrates International Anticorruption Day. This is the annual moment to review the state of global corruption, as well as the best opportunity to reflect on the poverty of our review tools. It has always been a challenge to measure corruption, but to measure corruption across time is the ultimate challenge. Another year of struggle against corruption is coming to a pass. Are we nearer to the target? Has any country graduated to good governance, in the ‘green’ area of the upper third of the global ranking? Has any country already in that area experienced some backsliding? Are some countries closer to reaping the benefits of many years of reforms or, on the contrary, does the world risk losing more countries to state capture?

As perception indicators are not optimal for assessing change from one year to another, ERCAS devised a methodology to both capture change – and lack of it- and explain it. A snapshot for 2023 can be found as the Index of Public Integrity (IPI), based on scientifically validated indicators, which proxy the causes (enablers and disablers) of corruption. Then, as indicators always have a certain time lag, the trend analysis is completed with an analysis of recent facts. All the data can be found on www.corruptionrisk.org. Except for the countries presented in the front table, all the others are forecast to be stationary. The six indicators used for the IPI 2023 are:

 

Administrative transparency De facto transparency of public contracts, business register, land cadaster and auditor general reports, as reported step by step and link by link in the T-index.
Online services The extent to which governments offer online services, as featured in the UN Survey. (Replaced Administrative burden based on the World Bank Doing Business)
Budget transparency The extent to which budget proposals and previous-year expenditures are and have been made public, using a fraction of the Open Budget Index survey.
Judicial independence The extent to which the judiciary is autonomous from private interest (including by government officials) as in the Global Competitiveness Report survey by the World Economic Forum
(Digital citizenship)
E-citizenship
Household broadband subscriptions and Facebook users per country measure the capacity of civil society
Freedom of the press Yearly indicator including economic and physical pressure on media

 

As Facebook users’ data, which is a component of the e-citizens, changes coverage across years, we use only Internet household connections to measure e-citizens for the forecast. As administrative transparency is a new indicator, with direct observations of every country’s online transparency, it is also not included in the forecast trends monitoring (just the IPI), but as an additional weight step. The step-by-step methodology can be read here.

Our IPI and forecast methodology thus provide three pictures:

1.   A snapshot- How the world is in the 2022-2023 IPI and why. Users can read the IPI by country and compare it against its region and income group on every component.

2.   A motion picture based on a time series- how countries changed over the past ten years and where they would likely be next year.

3.   A diagnosis – Open the forecast country page to see the individual trends, diagnosis and explicit legend to understand where the country is on corruption risk, what it could do to improve, and where it will be next year.

 

 

THE ANALYSIS

  • Every year, state capture is subverted by the silent but unstoppable rise of global digital citizenship, which signifies aggregate demand for good governance, understood as fair and equal treatment by a government for its subjects, with no privileged groups or citizens, enjoying a different status due to connections to the government — or bribes. Almost in every country of the world, the number of e-citizens is on the rise.
  • Corruption fights back, even against the most successful judicial crackdowns, with former successful countries losing battles against impunity in Latin America, Africa and the Balkans. Anti-privilege reforms promoting ethical universalism, and not high-profile trials, thus offer the most sustainable path to good governance, as success stories prove.
  • An unprecedented number of insurgencies, coups and wars are taking state capture to the next violent stage and threaten what have been incipient promising trends in  have also been under threat but give signs of resilience and recovery.
  • As Estonia moved up and the United States down, Estonia is now ahead of the United States as number 5 in the IPI ranking (1-10, with 10 best integrity in the IPI), after Denmark, Norway, Finland and New Zealand, which lead the top.
  • Digital trends (Internet and social media connected citizens, online services) are all steadily rising, while political indicators (judicial independence, freedom of the press) are doing badly in most of the world and worsening. The political trends cancel out the positive tech trends, and growing demand in the form of civil society combined with increased repression of the press and civil society is likely to lead to much instability wherever civil society reaches some critical mass – for instance, in the capital cities. The fall of captors in Sri Lanka may be followed by many others, but the success of the revolutionary path to good governance depends on the degree of institutionalization of political alternatives to follow. Not many political coalitions for good governance, unified by a single program on eliminating privilege and increasing transparency, exist around the world. If the good political society does not associate with a clear purposive movement, populists will remain what they have been for a while now – the chief political winners due to discontent with corruption.
  • Unless the United States solves its leadership integrity problems and is back convincingly as the needed global anticorruption coalition leader, global standards will sink even lower in 2024, and global anticorruption will become just another tool of a new cold war, with accusations of political instrumentalization and double standards flourishing. A phase of global moral anarchy with few successful transformations might follow as countries increasingly realign on grounds other than public integrity reputation.

 

More on www.corruptionrisk.org

Direct queries to professors Alina Mungiu-Pippidi and Michael Johnston at mungiu-pippidi@againstcorruption.eu

 

Berlin-Roma-Bucharest, December 2023

 

Latvia

Latvia has been struggling with competitive particularism, resilient through many rounds of elections for most of its transition. The result is overregulation in the field of public accountability. More judicial accountability, de-politicization of public positions and more pro- active transparency may help bring the long belated upgrade to an upper class of governance. Popular demand for good governance is very high, but has not succeeded yet to create a political class on the quality of neighboring Estonia’s, which provides the best roadmap.

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 Latvia

Latvia’s political system has been functioning in a relatively inclusive and democratic way for about the last two decades. However, corruption has been a continuous concern. In the allocation of public resources such as public procurement contracts, public jobs and social services, fairness and impartiality are observed but not uniformly adhered to. Public agencies differ in their perceived degree of capture v. impartiality. The separation between the public and private sphere is the adopted principle but deviations from it are frequent (even if nowadays often hidden). Hence, within the distinction between the limited access order and open access order, Latvia fits as a borderline case.However, along several parameters, Latvia has experienced gradual long-term improvements. Its anti-corruption legislation is well developed. Administrative corruption remains a problem but on a considerably lesser scale than in the end of the 1990’s when solid surveys began. Corruption-related investigations and prosecutions of influential people in power positions have shown that no group is entirely above the law. Occasional expressions of the public outrage against corrupt politics are strong enough to serve as at least a modest restraint on the political elites and the grip of captors of political decision-making eased in 2010-2013.Among the factors which hold back Latvia from becoming a governance regime of the open access order, seem to be the rigid ethic division in the political competition, widespread sense of relative personal economic deprivation and high level of informal economy, the deficit of general interpersonal trust and related difficulties to overcome collective-action problems. Moreover surveys reveal mixed public attitudes towards corruption with both condemnation and tolerance common.

Corruption °C Publishes Data on Corruption Trials in Latvia

The portal Corruption °C, maintained by the Centre for Public Policy Providus from Latvia, has recently made available statistics on trials for offences committed in the public service in Latvia. The data has been collected by Providus and covers the period from 2004 to 2011.

The statistics show the trend in total number of trials, convictions and acquittals over the selected time period (see graph below), and also provides an overview of the distribution of cases according to the department or agency of the public officials involved. They also show in detail the amount of bribes associated with each criminal case. The portal highlights the relevance of the conviction of officials from the Development Department of Riga City Council, which was considered the most important corruption case in 2011 and involved a gross amount of bribes of about EUR 1,000,000, the largest amount of bribes in a criminal case with a verdict of guilty since the restoration of Latvia’s independence.

In addition to these statistics, Corruption °C also offers a series of reports on corruption, written by top Latvian experts as well as international authors. The portal, initiated in 2005, follows and analyses key trends in the area of corruption and anti-corruption policy in Latvia, and tracks flows of corruption-related news, identifying and providing in-depth analysis on the most important developments in the country. The website also focuses on placing Latvia’s developments into the European context.

Corruption in Public Construction Target of Creative Initiatives in Eastern Europe

Public construction contracts are typically among the government activities most vulnerable to corruption in most countries plagued by this phenomenon. Scandals involving procurement fraud and embezzlement of funds from public works have become more and more common, and in some cases indications of corruption are so flagrant that the resulting buildings, bridges and other landmarks are seen by the public as true monuments to corruption. Recent initiatives in two Eastern European countries are now making use of that to increase awareness about the problem and insure that old abuses are not forgotten.

Delna Society for Transparency, Transparency International’s national chapter in Latvia, is one of the organisations exploring this issue. Already in 2009, Delna organised an exhibition entitled ‘History of Ugliness’, which featured photographs of 17 landmarks in Riga, all of which were suspected of having been built under severe irregularilities. According to the article “The ugly face of Latvia’s landmarks”, recently published by Delna’s representative Aiga Grisane on Transparency International’s blog, “[t]he aim of the exhibition was to bring the public’s attention to sites and buildings in Riga which are suspected of having been constructed using corrupt practices and to fuel discussions of urban planners of how to make the urban environment not only aesthetic but also ethical”.  Now the organisation has revisited its earlier initiative and has made all photos available on the online platform Foursquare, where users can spot the location of each landmark on a map of the city. This step is a great opportunity to give more visibility to their initiative.

Another initiative initiated in Prague, Czech Republic, takes a more satirical approach to putting corruption in public works in the spotlight. Theatre director and philosopher Petr Šourek is the creator of CorruptTour, an agency that takes Prague’s visitors and locals to see “the best of the worst” in the city, according to their slogan. In addition to the ‘Prague Corruption Tour’, they organise the tour ‘Hospitals on the Edge of the Law’, which takes people to three Prague hospitals where state money is allegedly being misused, and also lead visitors to addresses of individuals who have been involved in corruption cases. In an interview to Czech radio Mr. Šourek highlighted that “the main aim [of the project] was to find a fresh way to present the urgency of this issue to the public”. More details on this project and the motivations behind it are available in the interview with Mr. Šourek published by Radio Praha.

The pictures above are featured respectively in the article by Aiga Grisane and in the interview by Radio Praha.

 

A Diagnosis of Corruption in Latvia

Latvia stood still in the past two years. As an overall conclusion, the corruption diagnosis identified by a KNAB 2008 report seems still accurate today. Thus, on one side, petty corruption is diminishing and at the same time grand corruption is developing.

A Diagnosis of Corruption in Latvia

Latvia stood still in the past two years. As an overall conclusion, the corruption diagnosis identified by a KNAB 2008 report seems still accurate today. Thus, on one side, petty corruption is diminishing and at the same time grand corruption is developing.

Transparency of local governments’ budgets

The project’s main aim was to increase local government budget transparency and accountability to local community leaders, to promote public participation in important decision-making of the municipality, to promote the role of non-governmental organizations in planning and control of local government budget; to expose Delna to local government budget analysis; to introduction disclosure rules. The project brought together four Latvian municipalities – Balvi, Bauska, Tukums, Cesis, thus representing all Latvian regions. Delna in collaboration with local government representatives took the draft budget for public consultation, and prepared an educational material “How to understand your local government’s budget?””.”

Observation of administrative resource use before the 2005 local elections and the 2006 parliamentary elections

The project represents an analysis of how incumbents use the advantages they have as officeholders to either attract positive publicity for themselves or generate negative publicity for their opponents. The goal is to establish the facts which can then serve as a basis for programmatic action and public naming and shaming. The fieldwork is being done by volunteers. Examples: working visits before the election; the granting of benefits, bonuses to socially vulnerable groups; extensive public opinion polls just before elections, which at the same time contribute to raising awareness of different ministries, such as questionnaires giving information on curriculum.

Anti-corruption measures at the Naturalisation Board of Latvia in the process of acquisition of citizenship

The project consisted in training seminars and an analysis report. Its goals were to: identify specific corruption risks within the process of acquisition of citizenship, evaluate their occurring probability and their level of harmful effect; develop probable solutions and propose short and long term recommendations; sensitize and train the staff of the Naturalisation Board on the issues of corruption risks and their minimization.

Monitoring Government’s Initiatives to Address “State capture” Issues

The project was set up to help draft Anti-Corruption Legislation and to allow the grant receiver NGO to participate in three working groups set up by the Latvian Government to prepare legislation on political party finance, a new corruption law on public officials’ conflict of interest and a proposed new anti-corruption bureau to investigate corrupt officials. The objective was both to monitor the legislative process and to have an impact on the shape of this legislation. The main goal was to create a basis and a structure for closer cooperation and dialogue between the government and civil society. About half the funding was spent on expert services and the other half on support services, communications and distribution of reports.

Implementation of Integrity Pacts in Three Large Construction Projects

The purpose of the grant was to improve transparency and increase efficiency in procuring and constructing three public projects – the National Library, the Acoustic Concert Hall and the Contemporary Arts Museum, all under the responsibility of the Latvian Ministry of Culture. This was to be accomplished through an “Integrity Pact” signed in September 2005 between the Ministry and DELNA.
The grant was expected to result in:
• More transparency in the procurement processes for the three projects resulting in lower project costs.
• An enhanced dialog between the public and private sectors and NGOs on transparency matters
• Anti-corruption policies and guidelines adopted by a number of private companies
• Based on the experiences of these projects improvements in the Latvian legislation and procurement practices.

I have the right to know! – a survey of access to information in Latvia

The grantee investigated how FOI law was applied in practice, by making requests for information to around 200 state and municipal organizations. The results of the survey were compiled in a report which was made available to the press and discussed at a number of public forums. The survey was carried out by ten students under the supervision of a project manager.

How democratic are political parties of Latvia – procedure and criteria of nomination of election candidates in the municipal elections of 2009 in Riga and Jurmala

The project addressed the selection of candidates on party lists for the 2009 municipal elections in the 2 largest cities of Latvia. Interviews with 30 party members of different statuses were conducted on the practices of candidates’ selection and the statutes and bylaws of parties were analyzed. A public data base was compiled with information on the candidates proposed by major political parties by using public available information (media, news agencies). The data base was intended to draw public attention to cases where the lists included candidates with mixed reputation. The candidates were evaluated based on 6 criteria: charges of corruption, conflicts of interest, large tax debts to the state, repeated changes of political party, cash reserves of over 10 000 LVL or seemingly confusing financial transactions.

Anti-corruption measures in Riga City Council – community participation in reducing corruption

Main aim: promote anti-corruption measures in the Riga municipality and provide for public participation. Delna attended the Riga City Council meeting of the Commission Against Corruption, prepared a draft municipal code of ethics, suggested reorganization plan for the Urban Development Department. The project also carried out a broader study of the corruption structural risks in the three departments of the Riga City Council – City Development Department, Welfare Department and the Property Department. A survey on civil servant’s views on anti-corruption measures was carried out. Before 2008 elections a public debate was organized were candidates were invited to present their plans to reduce corruption in Riga.

Openly about the finances of the 9th Saeima elections

The project collected publicly available information on party revenues and expenditures, covering the following data: amount of advertising placed, recoreded via monitoring electronic media and press; partially collected information on the outdoor advertising placed by parties; public events organized by parties; analysis of declaration submitted by parties; analysis of information on donors available from public data bases.

Openly about the finances of the 2005 local authorities elections

The project collected publicly available information on party revenues and expenditures, covering the following data: amount of advertising placed, recoreded via monitoring electronic media and press; partially collected information on the outdoor advertising placed by parties; public events organized by parties; analysis of declaration submitted by parties; analysis of information on donors available from public data bases.

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