The Good Governance of the Corona Crisis

The years since 1989, the previous threshold crossed by the contemporary world have seen unprecedented stress on good governance, with the adoption of international conventions and treaties, disclosures like Panama Papers and spectacular enforcement of the older American Foreign Corrupt Practice Act. But during this interval the world largely stagnated on the quality of governance. If anything, governance in top income countries declined slightly, and in less affluent countries stayed the same. Only a handful of countries registered significant progress- those good governance ‘achievers’ that I covered with an international team of researchers in several books and articles, and which are less than a dozen across continents.

It is very significant in these days’ debate to monitor the performance of these countries in the fight with the epidemic and to compare them with their income and regional counterparts, and why not, with older good governance achievers, like US, UK or Scandinavian countries. Of some, everybody heard in the past two weeks, even if not researching anticorruption: South Korea and Taiwan. These two democracies handled the Corona crisis brilliantly, acted swiftly on evidence to prevent the spread of the virus, learned from previous epidemics and summoned e-government, technology (apps to trace contacts) and the excellent relation between state and citizens, based on transparency and trust.

In Latin America, the good governance achievers have the lowest fatality rates. By Easter 2020, Chile with 1.1% and Costa Rica with 0.5% clearly stood out compared to Nicaragua’s 11.1%, Bolivia’s 8.2%, Mexico’s 6.6%, Honduras’ 6.3, the Dominican Republic 5.6%, Brazil’s  5.7% and Ecuador with 4.7%. Uruguay also did well. Africa was still at the very beginning, but already you could see that Tunisia, who is among the very recent countries which started on the good governance path (see map) has been handling the situation better than its neighbors.

It is more difficult to judge in Europe, the land of the oldest good governance achievers, but there it also seems that many countries which have improved their governance in the last thirty years- Estonia, Georgia, the Czech Republic, Portugal- handled the crisis better than ‘old achievers’- countries like France or UK.

This highlights a previously neglected issue- that the equilibrium representing good governance, the state-society balance that we capture in the Index for Public Integrity, needs to be sustained over time and should not be taken for granted. Indeed, the John Hopkins University-EUI who  estimated UK and US far better prepared than Germany or South Korea should revisit their criteria and allow a larger role for political leadership. Also, would it not be nice to include Taiwan in the 195 countries GHS index, as clearly its governance was superior to many and so some lessons could be learned from there? Poor leadership (as well as a good one) matters. It can enable or deter collective action needed in such times, and both these old good governance achievers showed that, leading to loss of lives. From the “old achievers”, Germany confirmed the most, with a low fatality rate (compared to the other West European countries) owing a lot to the same non-populist, solid social contract, where the state acts on evidence and broad consultation, the citizens trust it to do so and the public and private sector, as well as different branches of government cooperate well. Still, Germany did not react as swiftly as either Korea or Taiwan, who had more cases after China originally, but managed to curtail the spread from very early on. Or Iceland, the marginal European island which made a prime minister resign in half a day after it turned out his family’s money was invested offshore and tested all skiers returning in one flight from Ischgl, an Austrian virus hotspot.

The more a government is able to draw on trust and technology, the swifter and more effective the response. Taiwan merged its national health insurance data with customs and immigration databases to create real-time alerts to help identify vulnerable populations. Iceland made an app which created a log of where the user had been to enable contact-tracing – sharing it with authorities being done on a voluntary basis, unlike Korea where quarantined people have to use it. Countries which used e-government tools to lower red tape and electronic means of payment to increase tax collection and diminish the unaccountable money volume- like Estonia or Uruguay- found it easier to handle the crisis. They had been already reducing personal contacts and paperwork between government and its citizens.

Acting rapidly on the evidence to prevent corruption, with the help of both responsible and critical citizens is also the essence of successful anticorruption: what you do after the outbreak already matters less, because it cannot be so effective even in the best of circumstances, that few countries enjoy anyway (like great impartial prosecutors and effective courts). The countries which had managed to build control of corruption successfully in recent times were thus far more prepared for this crisis even than those advanced countries which had received it as a heritage from their ancestors. Good governance needs current practice, but also returns dividends, as we could see during this pandemic.

Mexico

Mexico has made considerable progress over the last ten years in administrative simplification, transparency and party finance reform. The country is held back by its incapacity to deal with organized crime and violence in a rule of law manner. The judiciary does not manage to hold powerful figures to account, be they office holders, union leaders, or top criminals. There is high demand for good governance by media and civil society, but the lack of accountability of the police, military and top executive, complicated with the organized crime infiltration prevent the many reforms of last years from making a decisive difference. The most urgent reform in Mexico is that of prosecution and law enforcement more generally, which has to become both more lawful and more effective. However, as some regions work better than others Mexico has internally the good models to follow in order to progress.

How Does Political Finance Regulation Influence Control of Corruption? Improving Governance in Latin America

In this paper, we address the question of how political finance regulation affects control of corruption in Latin America from a quantitative perspective. We present a Political Finance Regulation Index with panel data from 180 countries over 20 years (1996-2015). This index was developed using the IDEA Political Finance Database, and once created, was applied to assess the relationship between political finance regulation and control of corruption.

In order to do this, we use the equilibrium model of control of corruption developed by Mungiu-Pippidi (2015). We also included judicial independence and public investment, considered as a constraint and an opportunity to corrupt, respectively. Lastly, we use control variables for level of development.

Results show that, in Latin America, increases in political finance regulation are related with a deterioration of control of corruption. This relationship is statistically significant in the panel estimations. Inversely, the negative relationship between regulation and control of corruption becomes positive in countries with high levels of judicial independence. In a similar way, increases in opportunities to corrupt, represented by levels of public investment, have a significant and negative effect in control of corruption.

Quién es Quién Wiki / Who’s Who Wiki

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The opacity characterizing the Latin American private sector alters the balance between liberal democracy and market capitalism, ultimately affecting national development processes.

Additionally, the lack of an effective legal framework implies that civil society actors, as well as investors and other corporate stakeholders, lack the tools to intervene in corporate decisions that affect the public interest, forcing us instead to rely upon voluntary corporate action or porous legal systems.

However, today there are alternative, innovative tools to compensate for these shortcomings. Information technology is simplifying the participation of individuals and promoting the construction of a context that fosters socially responsible behavior and the exercise of professional ethics.

Increasingly, projects with collaborative platforms specifically designed to promote a culture of transparency and to foster, in the long term, compliance with fiduciary and legal standards are coming on-line.

Who’s Who Wiki combines business intelligence with transparency technology and network visualization to facilitate access to symmetric information about corporations and investors. With PODER’s editorial site, rindecuentas.org, we promote MéxicoLeaks, a secure whistleblowing platform.

The objective of the project is analyze the Mexican corporate network and facilitate public understanding of its individual and corporate members.

 

Twitter: @QuienQuienWiki

Read More About QQW: here.

Latest Article (Spanish): “CMHN, la política de negocios, las élites y la toma de decisiones en México”.

Old habits die hard: Challenges to participatory governance in post authoritarian Mexico.

This his article provides ethnographic evidence about the factors that shape the attitudes of citizens towards the state among communities in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Because we are interested in studying whether political democratization can offer real opportunities for the empowerment of previously oppressed or disadvantaged groups, the communities studied were low income, rural and mostly populated by indigenous groups. Furthermore, these communities are also geographically remote, which means that ensuring good governance and accountability of state officials poses special challenges to regional authorities in these areas. For the same reasons, the population in these communities is especially vulnerable to the impacts of corruption. Specifically, the study focuses on the interactions of community members with health service providers, where corruption can have specially deleterious consequences.

Publicidad Oficial (Official Publicity)

Soft censorship or indirect government censorship, includes a variety of actions intended to influence media—short of closures, imprisonments, direct censorship of specific content, or physical attacks on journalists or media facilities.

Publicidad Oficial focuses on financial aspects of official soft censorship in Mexico. In this country, the allocation of Government advertising is the more common tool to exert soft censorship and is an integral part of the country’s complicated media landscape. Absent precise and clear rules, it is a means to influence or even a tool to blackmail media owners and journalists.

Federal and local governments use official advertising to shape media outlets’ editorial line and push partisan agendas. Opaque and arbitrary allocation of official advertising constrains pluralism and a diversity of voices by selectively funding media outlets that support officials and their policies.

Read their latest report here: Buying Compliance:Governmental Advertising and Soft Censorship in Mexico

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Twitter: @PubliOficial@fundarMexico

Fundar

Centro de Investigación y Análisis

Fondos a la Vista

Donations to the third sector are currently scarce in Mexico, as a result, levels of overall investment in the projects supported by civil society are rather low.

At the same time, although organizations are accountable and report to various authorities, society at large does not know about such information, or simply do not have easy access to it.

Fondos a la Vista  has developed a platform to facilitate information about civil society organizations committed to social development and their donors.

The project has as its main objective to promote transparency and accountability in the sector and to promote trust in private donations and organizations.

It also aims to the recognition of the work and commitment of CSOs that already are have good transparency practices in place.

319081_132582570222812_337445412_nFacebook: Fondos a la Vista Twitter: @FondosalaVista

Alternativas y Capacidades A.C

 

Alternativas strengths citizens alternatives to the social development of Mexico. Its work is focused on three areas of action:


1. Citizens Academy of Public Policy. They work to build vision and capabilities among citizens organized to participate, affect and improve social policy, help to better define public problems, design better public interventions and monitor and evaluate public policies.

2. Development Policy: Alternativas works for policies, laws and a regulatory environment that recognizes the value of an organized citizenry.


3. Social Investment:
Alternativas promotes strategic and visionary social development investment to facilitate CSOs access to private financing available. They work with foundations, community foundations, companies and individual donors interested in creating institutions.

Consult Aternativas Institutional Resume.

¿Quién Compró?

Quién Compró? is a data journalism platform designed to monitor and foster transparency in the use of public money in the Chambers of Deputies and Senators in Mexico.

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Transparency problems in Mexico

1. Mexico has a Congress with high levels of opacity

The legislative power is one of the least transparent institutions in Mexico. In many cases,  citizens have no possibility to track how millions of pesos are spent.

2. Congress spends an excessive amount of money

The Mexican parliament is the fifth most expensive in the world. A Mexican senator receives 13,400 dollars per month, whereas a German congressman receives 10,400 dollars per month.

3. Transparency is expensive

Citizens have to pay in order to receive detailed public information. Very frequently, it is not available in a digital format.

4. Delayed responses

Mexican citizens have to wait up to 8 months to receive a response from the authorities, which as well, in many cases, might not be completely satisfying.

5.  Information is delivered in “unfriendly” formats

The Mexican Congress does not have an open database; it provides information only in hard copy or PDF document format. This complicates the ability to analyze the presented data and represents an obstacle for accountability.

Quién Compró? General &  Particular Goals

General. To monitor and foster transparency in the usage of public money in the Mexican Congress.

Particular.1. To elaborate a database of the congress expenditures.
2. To facilitate the access to the new created database for the public.
3. To generate easy-to-understand visualizations of important data.

Targeted Users

1. Citizens
Visual material will allow tracking in detail Congresses spending.

2. Investigators
Quién compró? plans to offer the possibility to download data directly from their website so it can be used for investigative purposes.

3. Journalists
Data can also be used easily to increase public awareness.

 

How they do it?

*Gathering essential evidence, using the Transparency Law to access to official contracts and bills.

*Organizing the information to build an open database.

*Facilitating the access of data by constructing an interactive search engine for the public to consult it.

*Visualizing the data of mayor importance.

Impact

Short Term- To provide citizens, for the fist time, with an access tool that illustrates how Congress spends their money.

Midterm – Journalists will have access to raw material for further investigations that might influence Mexican public agenda.

Long term- By revealing the uses and abuses of public money, judicial processes can be initiated, contributing to the fight against corruption.

Scale

Quién Compró? is planing to  associate with local groups and institutions, interested in the creation transparency of the local Congresses expenditures, in the different states of the Mexican Republic. They also will offer their platform and consulting services to replicate the model at the local level.

Funding

Quién Compró?  is a non-profit organization, but aspires to become self-sustaining through actions such as:

*Donations

*Funds raised via crowd funding

*Financial support from other non-governmental organizations and universities

*Special events

*Collaborations to different communications means.

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Facebook: Quién Compró?Twitter: @QuienCompro
YouTube: ¿Quién compró?

Alcalde, cómo vamos?

 

Alcalde, cómo vamos? is a platform of more than 40 social, academic and business organizations that agree to work for the civic and democratic maturity of the Nuevo León State in Mexico.

They have proposed 10 concrete actions to all candidates for Mayor in the 9 neighboring municipalities of Monterrey during the 2012 electoral process.Elected mayors of Monterrey, Guadalupe, Apodaca, San Nicolas de los Garza, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Santa Catarina, Escobedo, and Juárez García signed a commitment to perform these actions between 2012 and 2015.

During these three years, the platform is measuring, comparing and communicating the level of compliance of each action in each municipality.

Alcalde, cómo vamos? it is an unprecedented instrument for accountability that can contribute to changing the relationship between citizens and local authorities.

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Facebook comovamosnl · Twitter @ comovamosnl ·
YouTube: comovamosnl

México Infórmate

México Infórmate works to promote access to public information in Mexico. At the same time, it seeks to generate a national dialogue  involving civil society organizations, governmental organizations and academic institutions on the importance of the right to know.

Its main objectives are:

  • To involve citizens in public affairs and get them to participate, in an informed manner, of decision-making processes and government oversight.
  • To inspire journalists to use the laws of access to information as a critical tool for investigative work.
  • To establish dialogue channels among media, public bodies and the general public, to discuss the importance of the right to know.
  • To promote the role of the culture of transparency in the consolidation of participatory democracy in Mexico.
  • To contribute to the dissemination of the culture of transparency in Mexico and promote the practical use of the laws of access to information as a tool to improve the quality of life for people.

México Infórmate has been involved in the  drafting of a citizens’ legal initiative on transparency (unfortunately, legislators are seeking to negatively modify it, even when they themselves invited civil society to participate).

The organization also trains  journalists on right to information and transparency issues and periodically publishes its own blog in El Universal, one of the major national newspapers.

So far, México Infórmate has published three studies on the Mexican Congress, the Administration of Justice System. More recently, it carried out a study on local Institutes of Transparency, which can be consulted here.

Facebook: México InfórmateTwitter:@MxInformate

Yo contra la corrupción (#YoCo)

#YoCo is a Mexican network of CSOs, citizens and public officials concerned about corruption. It works for the development of anti-corruption initiatives maintaining a focus on the prevention of corruption in the public sector.

The project is structured by a model  based on four measures:

1. Diagnostic of work processes to identify risks of corruption in public agencies and private actors.

2. To raise public awareness on the existence of acts and behaviors to detect corruption risk maps.

3. Identifying corrective measures.

4. Identification and punishment of corruption acts.

These concrete actions seek to effectively prevent acts of corruption by public servants and citizens.

By August 2015 #YoCo will present a legislative initiative that will focus on prevention and citizen participation in the fight against corruption.

 

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Organizations leading #YoCo :

  • Aportes Contraloría, A.C.
  • CIMTRA: Ciudadanos por Municipios Transparentes
  • Desarrollo Institucional de la Vida Pública A.C
  • Instituto para la Defensa del Interés Público, A.C. (IDIP)
  • ONG Contraloría Ciudadana para la Rendición de Cuentas, A.C

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Facebook: YoContraLaCorrupciónTwitter: @YoVsCorrupción

Borde Político A. C. – Borde Jurídico

Founded in 2012,  Borde Político is a NGO created with the purpose of developing digital tools for monitoring the performance of the Mexican Congress.

Through this platform, citizens can better know the work of their representatives and find interactive tools designed to function as simple mechanisms for consulting, displaying or disseminate relevant information related to both Chamber of the Mexican Congress.

Since 2013, through a specialized project named Borde Jurídico, the transparency effort extended to observe the work of the Judiciary Branch.

Its team consists of 13 people, which includes political scientists, designers, lawyers, philosophers and programmers is dedicated to digitize, illustrate and make available, in real time, information generated in the Congress and the Supreme Court. The digital platforms developed by Borde Político aim to encourage citizen contributions and debate to political processes and legislation.

In addition, Borde Político is part of the Opening Parliament Alliance (Mexico) and has established important partnerships to work on matters of open budget and legislative budgets with renowned civil society organizations in Mexico such as Fundar and Métrica Pública.

Twitter: @bordepolitico /@bordejuridicoFacebook: Borde Político, Borde Jurídico • Youtube: Borde Político, Borde Jurídico

Borde Político A.C.

Borde Político is a NGO founded in 2012 that develops digital tools for monitoring the performance of the Mexican Parliament. In this platform, citizens can know the work of their representatives by simple mechanisms for consultation, display and dissemination of information through interactive tools.

Since 2013, through a specialized project named Borde Jurídico, the transparency effort extended to observe the work of the Judiciary Branch. The team of 13 people, which includes political scientists, designers, lawyers, philosophers and programmers is dedicated to digitalize, illustrate and make available the information generated in the Congress and the Supreme Court in real time. Digital platforms developed by Borde Político aim to encourage debate and citizen contributions to political processes and legislation.

Fin al abuso (1st Campaign)

The project measures the amount of money annually stolen and diverted from education in Mexico, and holds a permanent campaign to advertise and display what could have been done in the education field in Mexico with the money that is lost to corruption. Additionally, “Fin al abuso” encourages citizens to join electronic campaigns and take legal action to demand that money spent on education is rightly used.

First campaign

Following up a three years movement named “Where is my teacher?”, Fin al abuso is leading a group of organizations demand for a single, complete and reliable registry of basic education teachers. The obligation to submit such registry was established in the enactment of the Mexican Federal Spending Decrees for 2010, 2011, and 2012; however, it does not exist so far.

Fin al Abuso, has detected (by name) 22,353 people, who are paid an income as teachers or principals, yet are not teaching. These people are the so-called “union commissioners” (UC) teacher union workers whose salaries cost Mexicans at least 1.7 billion pesos every year.

 Mexicanos Primero

“¡Fin al abuso!”  denounced this wrongdoing in 2012 and invited Mexicans to join the demand of more money to be allocated for education and less to be given to the Teachers Union.

The campaign collected signatures at public spaces, universities and forums; and had broad media presence in Mexico City, Tepic, Tijuana, Guadalajara and Monterrey.

In three months 230,240 citizens signed the campaign and 115 NGOs supported the initiative.

With each collected signature a letter demanding public resources to be well used was sent to the President of Mexico, the presidents of the Senate and House of Representatives, and the Ministers of Education and of Finance. If these Union Commissioners are essential to the SNTE (teachers’ union), then they should be paid from union dues deducted from teacher salaries. Those who signed received a reply from the federal authorities.

SEP (Secretariat of Public Education) and the SNTE reacted differing only in regards to the number of UC: SEP reported that there were “only12,704 commissioners whilst the SNTE admitted having over 160,000 commissioners.

In a second conference, Fin al Abuso published a document supported by the National Bar Association of Mexico (Ilustre y Nacional Colegio de Abogados de México) concluding that the payment of UC from the federal treasury is illegal.

 

 Twitter: @Finalabuso    •   YouTube: MexicanosPrimero  • Facebook: FinAlAbuso

Corruption Tour Bus – Corruptour

The Corruption Tour Bus (Corruptour) is a unique and disruptive product, designed to create awareness of the shameless government corruption in Nuevo León, Mexico. The past 10 years have been tragic for this prosperous state that once stood out for its sound business and peaceful environment. However, the last government administrations and political parties have partaken in ridiculous corruption scandals that have resulted in increased violence. Vía Ciudadana, a local movement that promotes independent candidates for 2015 elections, is the author this project.

The Corruptour’s strategy is to take citizens on a ride to eleven city landmarks that represent the major scandals of the past years: over cost state government buildings (Torre Administrativa), the tragic Casino Royale, where 52 innocent people lost their lives in an act of terrorism and no authority has been prosecuted, and City Hall as the actual mayor, Margarita Arellanes has been accused of proselytism, amongst others.

The narrative of the tour includes the names of the government officials involved, amounts of bribes and extortion and a direct call to action to citizens to eradicate and punish all forms of corruption.

With this project, Vía Ciudadana expects to outrage citizens and understand the relation of government corruption with the damage caused to their state. 2015 can be the year of change, the year where honest and hard-working citizens enter government offices and make a transcendental change.

Twitter: @Corruptour Facebook: CorruptourYouTube: ViaCiudadana

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Institutional performance and social values: Mexico case study report

The contribution of The Basel Institute on Governance to ANTICORRP WP4, (the ethnographic study of corruption practices) involves field research in two countries: Mexico and Tanzania. This report describes the activities and findings form the research conducted in Mexico.

The report summarizes the results from the application in the Mexican context of the ethnographic survey on institutional performance and social values that all ANTICORRP partners working in WP4 have agreed upon and will apply in their respective case study countries. Additionally, the information on the survey is supplemented with additional insights that were obtained through semi-structured interviews with key informants as well as focus group discussions.

The field research in Mexico contributes to the ongoing work in WP4 in several ways.

First, by applying the standardized survey on institutional performance and social values to a Latin American context, it enriches the sample covered by the work of WP4. This is specially meaningful given the fact that the approach of this work package is that of ethnography. Therefore, inclusion of the Mexican case adds to the increase the breadth of cultural, demographic and geographical variation that the WP4 work will cover, contributing to the goal of bringing together a comprehensive view of how local contexts shape different understandings and perceptions of corruption.

Second, the field research in Mexico targets low-income, minority groups living in remote rural areas of the country. These groups, because they have been historically disempowered, and because their characteristics (rural, poor ethnic minorities) can make them especially hard to mobilize, are typically amongst the most vulnerable to corrupt practices. Therefore, developing a better understanding of the manner in which groups like these view their relationship with the institutions of the state and understand corruption is a necessary step to develop better approaches that can protect the most vulnerable from abuse of power.

Third, while the research in Mexico includes application of a shared research tool (the survey on institutional performance and social values) it also takes a unique perspective by placing the focus of the analysis on studying participatory initiatives to prevent corruption in the health sector. This angle will contribute to the overall WP4 effort by adding insights form the health sectors to the work in other sectors (e.g. education, business, electoral systems) that partners in WP4 are undertaking.

Comparative country reports on institutional performance Countries: Bosnia, Kosovo, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Tanzania, Turkey.

The report draws on ethnographic research undertaken in 8 countries object of investigation by the WP partners, namely: Italy, Hungary, Bosnia, Russia, Turkey, Kosovo, Tanzania and Mexico. In addition, an additional chapter (Annex 2) will render the case of Japan which will serve as a contrast case on which to assess ideas and practices of governance and institutional performance through an anthropological perspective. The report includes data gathered through a questionnaire survey undertaken, with minor differences, in all the eight countries included in WP4. The data analyzed comparatively refer to three main fields: perceived and experienced performance of local institutions, local problem and resolution ideas, socio- cultural norms and values. We have identified, following the anthropological literature, a number of cultural issues that are in relation with corruption, or with local citizens’ experiences of the functioning of public institutions in their countries. This first deliverable constitutes an attempt to draw some preliminary conclusions on the interaction between socio- cultural features and governance (both as experienced and perceived) which will be further and ethnographically explored in the final deliverable of this Working Package.