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

 

Transparency in the Time of War – a Survey for 143 countries

In 2021, we measured for the first time by direct observation the state of transparency for accountability in the new T-index (computer-mediated government transparency) for 129 countries. The methodology and the first results appeared in Regulation and Governance in 2022 and a new webpage created a fully transparent index, where every item could be traced back to the original webpage in one click, and readers had a feedback button to signal errors. We hoped thus to bring a contribution to a new generation of transparent government indices, sheltered from both gaming and undue influence and crowdsourced by governments, media and civil society.

This new 2023 report covers 143 countries and a very different world from the pilot project we ran in 2021, as global trends of democracy backsliding and violence have become all too visible. And still, the public good of transparency is still there and citizens still need to hold their governments accountable even during wartime. Removing countries engaged in war from the T-index would be an artificial way to show the world better than it is: we do not aim for that and although we considered this option, we eliminated it in the end. As war, in one form or another, has become a part of the lives of more countries than the ones directly engaged in it in 2023, we will also show the performance of countries under war in this report, with the clear understanding that causes might be beyond their control. Beyond the loss of life and infrastructure, war destroys transparency built by many governments, sometimes even generations, and its consequences need to be seen as well.

 

Read our T-index 2023 report: TRANSPARENCY IN THE TIME OF WAR

 

From immemorial times, war has created an environment favouring propaganda, not transparency – and corruption, not public integrity. On the first day of the battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916, 19,240 British men lost their lives in what remained the heaviest loss of human life in one day in the First World War. But the British media made headlines claiming that the Allies’ casualties were not heavy, as it operated under the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA), passed a week after Britain declared war on Germany. It was not even the direct censorship under DORA that did the most harm, but the direct participation of the chief media owners in a propaganda national machine, agreeing that during war transparency needs to be put on hold.

In 2023, not only Russia and Ukraine are at war, but significant parts of the world have become embattled. Authoritarian countries have long promoted acts to limit foreign influence in their public lives: these days democratic governments are following suit. Government propaganda, which is the opposite of government transparency, as it chiefly means misinformation and misrepresentation from official sources does never seem more justified and acceptable than during a conflict with the propaganda of an enemy. Digitalization has also proved a double-edged knife, as the same miraculous smartphone that we praised for making every citizen a watchdog of the government made every person a target. Public information can become a liability when used by a country’s enemies against it, and promoters of malware have increased in numbers and activity, turning the Internet into a battlefield.

This report surveys the current state of government transparency worldwide, offering a real transparency measure for 143 countries, based on a survey of both de facto (publication of information on the web) and de jure (legal commitments) transparency. It is the second full edition of the T-index, after the first 129-country survey (2022). The T-index fulfilment score (% of maximum transparency possible) measures – by facts and not by perceptions – the distance from where a country is and where it should be on real transparency for accountability, using the Sustainable Development Goal 16 and the United Nations Convention against Corruption criteria. The webpage www.corruptionrisk.org/transparency thus offers an assessment of the extent to which each country fulfils the transparency benchmarks and allows its comparison against its continent and the world.

The global average in total fulfilment is at 61%, with the world performing far better on commitments to transparency (77% on de jure) and worse on real transparency (54% on de facto).  With 80% total fulfilment and 73% de facto, the EU and North America lead in transparency, although the internal variation across this developed region is significant. With a de facto index of 36%, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) does not even meet half of its de jure commitments, although it has progressed in the last year. The Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) has a smaller implementation gap (32 % de facto versus 52 % de jure), but the total fulfilment score is lower compared to SSA (38% versus 47%). MENA is the poorest performer in the world. ECA (Eastern Europe and Central Asia) is above the global average at 66%, followed by Asia-Pacific and Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) at 62%.  The situation of every tool monitored can be observed in the figure. A full report can be downloaded from below.

 

T-Index 2023 – De facto by components

Legend: % represents the number of countries which fulfil the criteria fully or in part. N=143.

 

The cases of Ukraine and Russia show what a terrible challenge war brings to transparency. Ukraine, a global transparency leader prior to the war, has had to suspend many of its transparent practices. The report discusses at length the situation of Prozorro, Ukraine’s public procurement innovative monitoring platform. In the case of Russia, an earlier legacy of transparency has been gradually shrinking due to the expansion of areas controlled by the military establishment and the need to hide the financial and asset declarations of some officials targeted by sanctions. The report uses transparent sources to track the impact of war and sanctions on the oligarchies of Russia and Ukraine. The conclusion so far is that Ukrainian oligarchs have been far more hurt by the conflict than Russian ones: some of the latter have in fact profited due to the energy price rise and despite sanctions. But other documented profiteers of the war exist in industries such as energy and defense also in Western countries.

Finally, taking into consideration the freedom to access, coverage and functionalities of the webpages, the report flags some best examples of online tools which could serve as models for other countries.

For a clean and sustainable reconstruction of Ukraine

European Research Centre for Anticorruption and State Building (ERCAS)
corruptionrisk.org | acrec.org.ua | ercas@hertie-school.org


We need to collect needs based on multiple sources, involve civil society from planning to audit, set targets for both the public procurement process and outcomes and tie them to the performance evaluation of a newly trained generation of public managers in charge of allocating and managing reconstruction funds.

 

Nothing creates more opportunities for corruption than war. But a war where foreign money pours in is bound to multiply exponentially such opportunities, especially in an already enabling environment. An estimation based on Forbes billionaires database by The Economist magazine found that in 2021, Russia topped the world when comparing crony versus non-crony sectors’ contribution to GDP: but Ukraine also came in fifth place, nearing 40% of Russia’s bad performance (see Figure 2). However, Ukraine had embarked in a variety of serious reforms prior to the Russian invasion (see Figure 1): but none triggered the self-sustainable virtuous circle able to clean the country, in a manner similar to the earlier success stories of Estonia and Georgia. Hence the lack of popularity of both Presidents Poroshenko and Zelensky with Ukrainian civil society before the war.

This short text presents five clear issues that the reconstruction has to grapple with and indicates the type of solutions. This is not a detailed report, but simply a statement of principles needed for a sound reconstruction.

 

Figure 1. Enablers and disablers of corruption in Ukraine 2021.
Source: www.againstcorruption.eu

 

Issue number one is how to organize an evidence-based needs assessment. Public procurement is often corrupted before it has even taken place, by discretionary purchases or distorted terms of reference. A central system based on a validation mechanism (at least two sources) and a decentralized and plural data collection, relying on transparently published needs statement at the local level may alleviate a part of the risk. Due consideration needs to be given to avoid the reconstruction turning into either a Samaritan dilemma, where the purchases are driven by the needs of the suppliers rather than the ones of the buyers, or a locally captured process, where higher kickbacks from more concentrated rents get priority over the rest. At such a scale of destruction, this is no easy task. This is why the collection of information should rely on civil society (in the broadest sense- including the private sector and communities, not only NGOs), on local government and central government, with findings triangulated in a central mechanism (as an online map with various categories). This can be completed with special reports on specialized areas commissioned to international NGOs which have experience working in disaster areas of developing countries.  Development agencies such as the World Bank or UNDP could contribute to the centralization of the needs assessment.

  

Figure 2. The Economist crony capitalism assessment 2021.

 

Issue number two is how centralized should the reconstruction process be. It is natural that the government of Ukraine wants to have ownership of the process, but we know from international experience that the ownership that guards against corruption is one exercised by the whole society, not just the recipient country’s government. The proposals of civil society to create a central purchasing body run by NGOs, both national and international are too radical to have a realistic choice of being accepted. However, a middle ground exists. The model, albeit just as a starting point, are the integrity pacts that the European Commission funds to enable civil society: Transparency International and national anticorruption NGOs- to audit the procurement process at the national level. As it stands, the model (funded by DG Regio) is a good idea poorly put into practice. The governments select what contracts civil society can audit (therefore setting aside those that matter to them), and the process is technologically primitive, based on a few observations instead of the observation of all data and follow-up of red flags. For Ukraine, which already has pro-Zorro, a far better process can be constructed, where civil society is involved from the writing of terms of reference to the allocation, negotiation, signing and execution. Such a process would also create a sustainable model of good governance where representatives of the entire community would be involved on a permanent basis in procurement decisions. Central purchasing bodies tend to reduce corruption risk, but the involvement of civil society, especially the one with relevant knowledge and representation (geographical or sectorial) would be in this case the key to building sustainable good governance in Ukraine, both at the central and local level.

Issue number three is how to shift from post-factum anticorruption – after the corruption act has already taken place- to preventive anticorruption, which deters corruption from the onset. No successful control of corruption has ever worked post-factum except where corruption was already exceptional and isolated and public integrity the norm. Convictions in Courts take years even in countries where they happen, and they can get reversed: recovering assets is highly expensive and takes years. Turning judiciaries which are themselves problems into solutions to corruption is highly unrealistic, although building a non-corrupt and effective judiciary is a worthy goal- in itself. Ukraine has already invested too much in the top architecture, with very high political risks as we have seen (US presidential candidates fighting over who gets appointed general prosecutor in Ukraine!). Ukrainians proved great solidarity and resilience after the invasion, showing that the main institutions work, and the public cooperates with the state as in a high-trust society. The existential threat helped the nation get together. So, an anticorruption focused on the past, on repression rather than prevention would not achieve control of corruption but might bring political risks that Ukraine can do without. After the war ends, the anticorruption of Ukraine should focus on reforms: to eliminate the sources of economic privileges, the monopolies and oligopolies of every sector rather than spend years putting in jail those who profited in earlier times from such political opportunities. Ukraine needs sustainability and national consensus, and profiteers of earlier times who survive the war can always be overtaxed to bring their contribution. But the fight against them should not absorb the core resources and energy.

Issue number four is how to achieve this functioning, self-driven prevention system. Ukraine has previously done many reforms: but, prior to the invasion, the Ukrainian civil society complained that while transparency is perfect, it only allows seeing how corrupt the country is because accountability is missing. Figure 1. shows that Ukraine has indeed arrived on top of the world when administrative transparency was concerned. But that is not enough. Anticorruption is like a bicycle, which manages to stand as long as it runs: but its separate pieces are worthless if they do not amount to a full-running bike. Transparency is only one wheel: accountability is another, and different parts of the government are supposed to deliver these different wheels. Pro-Zorro was a model monitoring system of procurement when e-procurement was concerned. But the responsibility and accountability of procurement are not with the public procurement agency (PPA). Nowhere do PPAs manage the last part of the cycle, accountability, which belongs to the government. The role of the monitoring agency is to show exactly what buyers (contracting authorities) from the government fail to reach the targets of competitiveness, value for money and integrity: an administrative sanctions mechanism needs to be in place to discipline the buyers, who are appointed by the government. The sanctioning is generally done by auditors when finding procedural problems and Ukraine did not have a high rate of sanctions prior to the war. In 2021, 265 officials were subject to disciplinary sanctions, of which 45 were dismissed from their positions and 274 were subject to financial liability from the 1,500 enterprises, institutions and organizations that were inspected by Ukrainian State Audit Agency. However, we know that favouritism in public procurement is not always openly illegal: single bidding, the main indicator of corruption, that the European Commission has now used to motivate the sanctioning of Hungary, is legal in most countries (meaning that the bidding process is not suspended and reorganized if only one bid is presented). What is needed is that the government itself sets targets (as the EU Public Procurement webpage indicates) and sanctions its PP buyers if they do not meet them, even in the absence of evidence of fraud in order to ensure the integrity and value for money of the process. A simple rule for integrity could be that no bidding is allowed outside pro-Zorro, that the admissible single bidding is allowed only on the EU-27 average (currently very high at around 20%, see Figure 3) and that all single bids instances are automatically audited with priority.

How many public officials were sanctioned or dismissed due to their incapacity to meet the standards of an effective and clean public procurement? An effective prevention system is not based on a case-by-case investigation, followed by prosecution, but by the existence of clear targets and their enforcement by monitoring followed by administrative sanctions. Aside from transparency (pro-Zorro), and accountability (PP targets enforced by administrative sanctions), the system needs some Government Buying Standards to define product specifications, including price, which should be mandatory for the central purchasing agency and other buyers.[1] Seeing that due to the war the Ukrainian government had to even fix some prices the development of a permanent cost standard unit would answer more needs than one.

 

Figure 3. Red flag single bidding across the European Union Member States
Source: https://single-market-scoreboard.ec.europa.eu/policy_areas/public-procurement_en
Legend : average marked in red

 

The final issue is about the human resources needed for a clean and effective management of reconstruction at all levels (from national, down to towns and villages). In environments such as Ukraine (countries with similar corruption indicators in times of normal, non-war situations) the administration is very politicized: who appoints those directly in charge of procurement purchases, for instance, decides de facto who wins and who loses a bidding process. Those who should disburse administrative sanctions are in fact those who decide who wins and who loses. Where should the human resource come from for the reconstruction money to avoid a return to the vicious circle where the principal and the agent collude, with the result of government favouritism? Aside from the macro-organization solutions suggested here, a small share of reconstruction funds should go into creating new project management procurement experts and auditors, by training a new force of civil servants and civil society as integrity compliance officers who would then become the backbone of an integrity system. This reconstruction is not business as usual: and neither should be those who work for it.

 

[1] Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (2017). Sustainable procurement: the Government Buying Standards (GBS). Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/sustainable-procurement-the-government-buying-standards-gbs#history.

Ukraine

Ukraine has progressed at a slower speed than Russia in the past decade, especially on e-government and administrative simplicity, the critical Estonianlike reforms needed to exit the post-communist maze. Recent efforts have seen some redress on public procurement and specific sectors, like health or education, but not on judiciary, where the debate was stuck on creating special islands of excellence instead of an overall reform plan. Estonian style. Popular demand is still limited by the insufficient penetration of Internet and the low e-participation. Quality of governance varies importantly across different geographical regions. The way ahead for Ukraine is in continuing to cut rents, as it had started to do in energy, eliminate legal privileges enshrined in its economy, and manage its transparency in procurement with public management tools (sanctions, management contracts, flexible shares according to performance) in order to prevent corruption. It is important that popular demand for good governance gets an increased political representation.

Case study report on control of corruption and EU funds in Ukraine

This report analyses the European Union (EU) – Ukraine relationship by looking at the impact of EU conditionality regarding the anti-corruption framework on the use and distribution of EU funding between 2007 and 2014. It shows that, historically, the EU concern with good governance in Ukraine has been materialised in the form of numerous anti-corruption conditions attached to transnational aid flows. Despite important improvements at institutional levels – particularly the set-up of the National Anticorruption Bureau, the Ukrainian practices and everyday routines have not changed fundamentally. Assessing the impact of EU funding in such a context marked on the one hand by pervasive corruption and on the other hand by a profound desire for change, can be a challenging task, especially due to the fact that a large share of international aid received has been directed to budget support, thus making it impossible to asses if it has been affected by corruption. Using secondary data analysis and interviews with key stakeholders, the report shows that the efficiency of EU assistance could be improved by increasing the levels of control, enhancing transparency and establishing a closer relationship with international partners who are more experienced in tackling EU funding fraud and grand corruption.

Corruption Perception: how can we improve corruption measurements?

By Ramin Dadašov and Niklas Kossow

When releasing the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), every year, Transparency International (TI) can be sure to attract the attention of the wider public including policy makers, academics and the media. According to its latest results, the problem remains severe across the globe. More than two thirds of countries covered by the CPI suffer from serious corruption. Still, the current report also says that there is significant improvement in many countries: this seems to be good news for the growing anti-corruption community. Yet, some of the CPI results do raise some eyebrows. The steady raise of Qatar’s scores, for instance, cannot be squared with the governance realities on the Arabian Peninsula.

The role of the CPI and its companion – the World Bank’s Control of Corruption indicator (CCI) – in raising public awareness of the magnitude and the spread of corruption worldwide cannot be underestimated. Moreover, thanks to these indicators and the resulting huge body of empirical research in the last years we have learnt a lot (although by far not everything) about the factors which explain cross-country variation in corruption levels. The key feature of both indicators is that they are based on the aggregation of perceptions of experts and the general population. The aggregation of a variety of sources aims to reduce the measurement errors associated with individual surveys and to reflect the broad concept of corruption which underlines the measurements. Although the CPI and CCI differ with respect to sources employed and aggregation methods, they are highly correlated (for a global sample of 173 countries in 2013 data, e.g., the correlation between both indicators is r=0.98).

TI-CPI

As aggregate perception indicators both indicators have received several criticisms since their first publication in the mid-90s. Leaving aside the discussion on methodological and conceptual issues, one of the major concerns is their “lagging nature”:  Changes in the assessments of corruption often reflect corrections of errors done in the past. One illustrative example is Brazil. Hit by the Petrobras scandal that broke in 2014, it has been suffering from a severe economic and political crisis; the country’s current CPI scores deteriorated compared to the previous year after being stable between 2012 and 2014. The positive development of uncovering a previously hidden corruption scandal was not reflected in the score.  Other notable example in this context is the worsening of CCI scores in Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal in the aftermath of the recent financial and fiscal crisis.

These examples make clear that interpreting changes in CPI or CCI should be done very cautiously. Using them for guiding policymakers can be misleading or even harmful as they might be silent about the potential outcome of anti-corruption reforms. Ukraine’s CPI score showed almost no change between 2012 and 2015, despite witnessing major anti-corruption reforms since the Maidan revolution in early 2014. Until very recently the methodology of CPI did not even allow for comparison across years which, despite explicit warnings by TI, did not hinder many users from doing so.

A corruption indicator that addresses the needs of the policy community thus needs to be a diagnostic tool that assesses the institutional capacity of a society to control corruption. It should be based on objective data, solidly grounded in evidence thereby transparently reflecting preventive policies for curbing corruption. Building on our work in ANTICORRP, the ERCAS team has been working on building such a tool.

Specifically, we propose an indirect way of capturing the national level of control of corruption through an Index of Public Integrity (IPI). Relying on objective and actionable data, it combines six different indicators reflecting aspects of red tape, transparency, judicial constraints, and social accountability.  A global version of the IPI covering around 100 countries will be available soon. A more limited version that covers only 28 European Member States was presented this month in a report commissioned by the Dutch EU presidency. Its approach enables researchers to track progress over time and to consider the impact of reform efforts. Similarly, as part of the DIGIWHIST project, our researchers are working on ways to use red flags in the context of public procurement as indicators for high-level corruption. As a governance field particularly prone to corruption, procurement practices can be used as proxies to estimate societal corruption levels, if used with care.

Our research shows that there is still a long way to go in order to reach truly objective measurements of corruption. Yet, there are steps in the right direction. Thanks to the efforts of the growing anti-corruption community we will soon be able to find indicators which will help us to inform the policy community on how to effectively fight corruption.

Digital Whistleblowing. Blessing or Curse?

Whistleblowing Panel

What does whistleblowing look like in the digital age? What are its benefits and pitfalls? On 17 November 2015 the Hertie School of Governance and the Council of Europe hosted a discussion on these questions. The event was a satellite event to the World Forum for Democracy, taking place at the Council of Europe 18 – 21 November and focusing on finding the right balance between freedom and control in democratic societies. The Hertie School brought together a set of panellists from a variation of countries and fields to present their very own experiences of working with whistleblowing. The panel was moderated by Anne Koch, regional director for Europe and Central Asia at Transparency International.

The different panellists showcased various experiences of working in the context of whistleblowing: Marius Dragomir, a journalist and senior manager for the independent journalism programme of the Open Society Foundations in London, Maksymilian Czuperski, working the Atlantic Council which recently supported the collection of evidence for the presence of Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine by crowdsourcing information from citizens. It also featured Simona Levi, the founder of Xnet, a Spanish online journalism platform specialized on engaging citizen. Xnet actively calls upon citizens to become whistleblowers and leak undisclosed information in order to uncover corrupt behaviour.

The final two panellists were Mara Mendes, project manager for Open Knowledge Germany and Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, professor of democratization at the Hertie School. They presented DIGIWHIST, a new EU Horizon 2020 project. The project aims at increasing transparency and efficiency of public spending. It will do this through the systematic collection, structuring, analysis, and broad dissemination of information on public procurement through online platforms. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi highlighted the centrality of procurement data in fighting corruption. Linked to information on aggregate asset and income declarations data, she hopes that this data will help detect potential conflicts of interest and identify systemic vulnerabilities. In this way DIGIWHIST is supposed to specifically support journalists in creating transparency within the procurement sector.

What is a whistleblower?

One reoccurring theme at the discussion was the actual definition of a whistleblower. Anne Koch opened the panel by describing it as “any person that wants to report wrong doing to someone who can do something against the problem.” This stood somehow in contrast to the experience of Xnet’s Simona Levi, who, for instance, collected emails from whistleblowers at big Spanish banks and reported on wrongdoings in these contexts. The panel agreed though that a whistleblower does not necessarily have to be someone working for the government or a private enterprise and release information from the inside. For Alina Mungiu-Pippidi it was “a person who is aware of a situation the rest of the world is not and brings it to public attention.” It can also be a group of people collectively gathering information that the wider public is unaware off, or analyse data collectively in order to highlight important information.

Who has the right to decide?

The debate also looked at the pitfalls of whistleblowing and discussed the questions of what safeguards are needed to prevent harm to innocent individuals through whistleblowing. In many countries protection of whistleblowers is still deficient and there are no laws specifically protecting whistleblowers from prosecution. Often those willing to share information are unaware of technical tools which can be used to protect their identity. The participants highlighted tools such as GlobaLeaks, which provides anonymous channels for whistleblowers. Journalists in particular carry a twofold responsibility. On the one hand they need to protect their sources and those who entrust them with information, also by teaching them secure ways to share information. Journalists, however, are also responsible for the information they publish. When Anne Koch asked the panel who has the right to decide what publications are in the public interest, the panel generally agreed: journalists can decide, but they have to be aware of their special responsibility. They will, however, always be better placed to decide than civil servants who might incriminate themselves by publishing data.

In the end, the best kind of whistleblowing might be done collectively. Communities of people can uncover corrupt behaviour of local officials and document what is happening around them. Also, individual whistleblowers depend on those around them. As Alina Mungiu-Pippidi pointed out: “In the end, laws cannot protect whistleblowers, but public opinion can.” A similar conclusion was also taken at a panel on safe whistleblowing at the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg, which representatives of ERCAS also attended. One conclusion to be taken from both discussions is that whistleblowing should not remain an exception, but it should become the norm for citizens to report wrongdoings that they witness.

The Anticorruption Report. Volume 3: Government Favouritism in Europe

This volume reunites the fieldwork of 2014-2015 in the ANTICORRP project. It is entirely based on objective indicators and offers both quantitative and qualitative assessments of the linkage between political corruption and organised crime using statistics on spending, procurement contract data and judicial data. The methodology used in the analysis of particularism of public resource distribution is applicable to any other country where procurement data can be made available and opens the door to a better understanding and reform of both systemic corruption and political finance. The main conclusion of this report is that public procurement needs far more transparency and monitoring in old Member States, where it is far from perfect, as well as new ones and accession countries, where major problems can be identified, partly due to more transparency and monitoring.This policy report is the third volume of the policy series “The Anticorruption Report” produced in the framework of the EU FP7 ANTICORRP Project. The report was edited by Prof. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, PhD from the Hertie School of Governance, head of the policy pillar of the project.

Print and e-book versions of all full reports can be purchased here.

Reviews for this publication

Public infrastructure projects and other types of government procurement almost everywhere in the world suffer from favoritism and corruption, if not outright criminality. The spoils always go to the people with the right connections, wealth, or the willingness to use or threaten violence. This is among the most difficult aspects of governance for scholars to study: those who talk don’t know, and those who know don’t talk. This slim volume summarizes detailed studies of favoritism in Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine. A final chapter shows how criminal organizations in many countries—including Mafia-like groups in Bulgaria and Italy—infiltrate national and EU-level public spending projects. Each chapter is packed with a remarkably rich set of charts, graphs, and statistical analyses that capture how much corruption exists and how it works. These succinct and eye-opening quantitative estimates of what really goes on beneath the surface of government make for indispensable reading and should straighten out anyone who doubts that the powerful always find ways to reinforce their influence and wealth, even on the “cleanest” of continents.

Andrew Moravcsik, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University in Foreign Affairs

Science to activism. The Anticorruption Frontline

budrich2_square KopieCan social science impact policy in real time and offer relevant options for major problems that our societies face today? This is the challenge taken up by the policy pillar of the EU FP7 project ANTICORRP which deals with good governance and anticorruption policies. ANTICORRP is a five-year project based across 20 European universities and research institutes. The head of the policy pillar, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, a professor at Hertie School of Governance and director of the European Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building in Berlin has organized work so that once a year, relevant new data, analyses and solutions are published in the form of a policy digest published by Barbara Budrich and widely distributed both in electronic and print format. The series was initiated last year with the first volume, ‘Controlling Corruption in Europe’ and has continued with the second volume, ‘The Anticorruption Frontline’ which was released this fall at the OECD Anticorruption Network Meeting (Eastern Europe and Central Asia Plenary) on 10 October 2014.

“I frequently hear the complaint that social science projects are de facto decoupled from policy and that the findings miss the window of opportunity to inform policy,” Mungiu-Pippidi says. “There are good reasons for this, primarily because the academic publishing cycle is slow and the focus is different from policy. If you study corruption, however, you have to be relevant for policy when your problem becomes salient. Which, in the case of corruption, is now.”

The core argument of ANTICORRP, a title which translates as ‘anti-body’, is that control of corruption is an equilibrium between opportunities and constraints for corrupt behaviour. To improve on it, good instruments are needed to trace change across time and understand if a policy intervention works or not. Each volume of the series thus has a special section dedicated to indicators as researchers struggle to move away from perception-based indicators such as the Corruption Perception Index to concrete ones which allow comparisons across time. The use of such indicators seriously shakes common knowledge: in the current volume of the report, researchers show that the widely used perception indicators overrate Qatar and Rwanda (two excellent reports are dedicated to each), that EU funds increase corruption risk in Hungary and Czech Republic (Hungarian researcher Mihaly Fazekas also published his innovative indicators measuring risk in public procurement in the first volume) and that Bulgaria failed in its anticorruption efforts despite serious push from the EU. What control of corruption consists of is documented in every volume with new evidence – this time, across three different datasets. Hertie School researchers are currently working to develop an interactive website instrument, which would allow countries to calculate their own corruption risk: to see where their vulnerabilities are and thus get tailored recommendations. “Our work shows that silver bullets do not exist” Mungiu-Pippidi says “but it also shows that the balance can be tipped to one side or another by smart policies. We developed a reliable statistical model which is based only on human agency factors. If there is a will, we show the way to develop the needed anti-bodies, but the prescription is different for every context. As doctors say, there are no two patients alike, so we combine good individual diagnosis with a limited set of tested instruments in various combinations.”

ANTICORRP researchers are doing policy work for the Council of Europe, OECD, European Court of Auditors and DG Home, among others. Hertie School was recently commissioned to do a synthesis of policy relevant findings in the EU for the Dutch government to assist in their preparation for assuming presidency of the European Council in 2016.

Selected chapters from the report are available on the ANTICORRP project website, together with more academic publications and deliverables of the project. Printed copies can be ordered here.

The Ambivalent Future of Ukraine

This article was originally published online in the Hot Spots Forum of the journal Cultural Anthropology. It is republished here with permission of the author.

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“Illustration of Ambivalence by Robert Neubecker for Ian Leslie’s ‘Ambivalence is Awesome’ on Slate, June 13, 2013.”

The situation in Ukraine can be grasped best by a specialist on geopolitics, a scholar of the (il)legitimacy of power, an ethnographer of insurgencies, an analyst of media propaganda wars, a trauma therapist, or by a psychologist of phobias and love-hate relationships. I have none of those specialisms, but I share their intellectual challenge—the theme of ambivalence. While “East” and “West” embark on another cycle of ideological confrontation and political standoff, there is little room left for marginal positions and ambivalent attitudes. As the outside world lashes out at Putin over the Crimea and East Ukraine, Russians turn wartime patriotic. Yet paradoxically, exactly because it is impossible to achieve a consensus, and because the black-and-white forefront positions over the Crimea and east Ukraine split families, friendships, and international clubs, it is the understanding of grey areas and backgrounds that might help define the way forward for Ukraine.

The Bi-Polar Background

One legacy shared by most survivors of oppressive political regimes is what George Orwell called “doublethink” and what Yury Levada and Alexander Zinoviev branded as being the key feature of Homo sovieticus. Under late socialism, as the present-day elites in Russia and Ukraine were growing up, it was irrelevant whether people believed official ideological messages or not. Instead, the relation to officialdom became based on intricate strategies of simulated support and on “nonofficial” practices (Yurchak 1997, 162). Individual doublethink developed into collective double standards that implied the ability to hold contradictory views in private and in public and the capacity of switching between them smoothly, when applied to “us” and “them,” to “ordinary citizens” and to the Party leaders, and to one’s personal circle and to society as a whole.

In its sociological sense, ambivalence, in the definition of Robert Merton, refers to incompatible normative expectations of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour. The incompatibility is assigned to a status and the social structures that generate the circumstances in which ambivalence is embedded (Merton 1976, 6–7). The core type of sociological ambivalence puts contradictory demands upon the occupants of a status in a particular social relation. Since these norms cannot be simultaneously expressed in behaviour, they come to be expressed in an oscillation of behaviors (Merton 1976, 8).

In the context of modernity, ambivalence is associated with fragmentation and failure of manageability. Zygmunt Bauman defined ambivalence as the possibility of assigning an object or an event to more than one category and views it as a language-specific disorder, with its main symptom being the acute discomfort we feel when we are unable to read the situation properly and to choose between alternative actions (Bauman 1991, 1, 12). Those who have detailed knowledge of geographical maps and the economic history of Ukraine or have done exhaustive research of the conflicting accounts on the current situation end up developing symptoms of ambivalence. Bauman lists ambivalence among “the tropes of the ‘other’ of Order: ambiguity, uncertainty, unpredictability, illogicality, irrationality, ambivalence, brought about by modernity with its desire to organise and to design” (Bauman 1991, 7). Ambivalence thus implies a form of disorder and negativity. In my view, ambivalence can be singled out from Bauman’s list for its bi-polarity, oscillating duality and the relative clarity of polar positions.

I note the clear visions represented by the White House and the Kremlin, even if they leave me feeling schizophrenic. Russia has gone anti-American yet again, but with a passion as if it is the first time. The United State’s approach toward Russia, as Andrew Wilson points out, reflects traditional concerns, even phobias, that are not based on an adequate understanding of the country, in part because Russia has ceased to be a focus of U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. approach to Ukraine is probably even less informed, if one follows that logic.

These irreconcilable visions constitute thesis and antithesis that co-exist without a possibility of synthesis, yet without an uncertainty as to what they are. The catch is that the clarity of polarized positions does not help in dealing with the complexities at hand. An adequate understanding of the situation in Ukraine, in my view, is unachievable without complicating matters, viewing modern Ukraine in the context of its geographical, historical, economic, and political bi-polarity and without understanding the clash between the completely different modus operandi of Ukraine and Russia vis-a-vis Europe.

The “Open Secrets” of the Ukrainian Sistema

In psychoanalysis, ambivalence is often associated with ambiguity, but the differences are significant. First, ambivalence is a bi-polar concept, not multi-polar as is the case with ambiguity. Its poles (thesis and anti-thesis) are defined and there is little uncertainty as to what these poles, or co-existing views, attitudes, and beliefs are. The uncertainty is created by the unpredictability of their actualization. While ambiguity is best illustrated by shifting centers of power and political influences (as represented by the EU multi-polar model and positions of its individual members on sanctions), ambivalence is an outcome of conflicting constraints.

The ambivalence of the Ukrainian elite can be defined as substantive ambivalence (they are Russian speaking, Russian educated, and Russian thinking individuals, while fighting their own background), functional ambivalence (they criticize and attack the system that they themselves had been an integral part of), and normative ambivalence (they commit to pro-democratic values that oppose their political behaviour, for example, their position on the EU membership goes contrary to their business interests).

The ambivalence of the Ukrainian elite is distinct from duplicity, from the deliberate deceptiveness in behaviour or speech, or from double-dealing. When molded by clashing constraints, ambivalence can result in the ability for doublethink (the illogical logic), dual functionality (functionality of the dysfunctional), and double standards (for us and for them). Ambivalence is best understood through the paradoxes of modernity, such as the role of hackers in advancing cybersecurity, for example, or the elites that propagate democracy and rule of law but are ready to use any amount of force to maintain themselves in power, as Vladimir Pastukhov argues.

Living with Ambivalence

My take on Ukraine evolves from my understanding of sistema, a network-based system of governance in Russia, which operates behind the facades of formal institutions. One “open secret” of the Ukrainian sistema is that it has been unable to serve its own reproduction: in short, elites simply have grabbed too much. I agree with Wilson’s framing of Maidan as “anti-sistema” forces and his argument that people want to reboot the system but don’t have methods for doing so.

The other “open secret,” however, is that ex-Maidans and Maidans-to-be are unable to make a fundamental change: sistema has gone but long live sistema! This points to a certain grip, if not effectiveness, of sistema forces, even where weakened by violence and its own protagonists.

The bad apples vs. bad barrel dilemma of the Ukrainian governance system, sometimes referred to as kleptocracy, cannot be resolved in a non-ambivalent way. It is not the question of changing all the apples (people of the former sistema), or of changing the barrel (the regime). Living with ambivalence will remain the name of the game until Ukraine becomes capable of sustaining itself as an independent economic unity. In the last twenty-five years, there has been very little progress in this direction. The tragedies of the 2014 military confrontations in east Ukraine have made the future of Ukraine even more difficult.

Alena Ledeneva is Professor of Politics and Society, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. She is also chairs the pillar on the Impact of Corruption for the EU FP7 ANTICORRP project

References

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1991. Modernity and Ambivalence. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Merton, Robert K. 1976. Sociological Ambivalence and Other Essays. New York: Free Press.

Yurchak, Alexei. 1997. “The Cynical Reason of Late Socialism: Power, Pretense, and the Anekdot.” Public Culture 9, no. 2: 161–88.

Waging Battle on The Anticorruption Frontline

ruslanThe demand for good governance is on the rise everywhere, from Kiev to Sao Paulo, Paris to New Delhi. But has any measurable progress been made recently? Do we know which countries are succeeding and why? Do anticorruption experts and policy makers understand public concerns about corruption?

The Anticorruption Frontline, the second volume of the FP7 ANTICORRP project policy report launched last week at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, finds less than encouraging answers to these questions: Despite increased effort to fight corruption worldwide, there remains little progress on the ground. Even in countries which have shown improvement, the use of public office for private gain remains an issue. Public opinion surveys tracking concerns about corruption are frequently misunderstood – by those being surveyed as well as those proposing anticorruption policy solutions.

New research by Prof. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi of the Hertie School of Governance shows that decreased confidence in the EU, especially in Western and Southern Europe, is linked closely to citizens’ perceptions of their national government’s ability to control corruption. This confidence has been eroded in the wake of the euro crisis, most markedly in countries with the worst growth performance. Central and Eastern Europe, however, remains the last bastion of trust in EU institutions, which is perceived largely as a counterweight to untrustworthy national institutions.

Two European case studies from The Anticorruption Frontline illustrate that EU funding regulations and anti-corruption legislation alone are no panacea for the rampant favoritism inherent in extant particularistic systems. Despite an improved Bulgarian anticorruption rating according to most accepted measures, findings from the Center for the Study of Democracy on Bulgarian governance show that the avoidance of market competition in areas such as public procurement remains the rule rather than the exception. In another chapter, Mihaly Fazekas’ unique data mining method on the awarding of EU structural funding uncovers systemic corruption in Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian public contracting methods.

Such preferential treatment – and its inherent abuse of power – is one of the most insidious forms of corruption facing the world today.  Further case studies from The Anticorruption Frontline include deeper analysis of Qatar and Rwanda, two countries singled out for their improvements on anticorruption measures, yet both of which still exhibit favoritism in public procurement, as well as a look into the corrupt bed of Ukraine‘s gas market, exposed in the wake of 2014’s uprising. As every case in the book makes clear, traditional measures of corruption often fail to measure the existence and subsequent impact of such exploitation of public trust for private gain.

The Anticorruption Frontline argues that further EU regulation is not the solution. As a multidimensional phenomenon, fighting corruption requires tailored policy approaches as well as sustained support in areas such as improving transparency and strengthening civil society. The answer instead may lie in a transition from EU co-financing of large public projects – where the risk of corruption is higher – to a more universal and non-discretionary allocation of EU funding, such as an Europe-wide unemployment benefit scheme.

The Anticorruption Frontline is available for purchase via Barbara Budrich Publishers.

The Anticorruption Report. Volume 2: The Anticorruption Frontline

From Turkey to Egypt, Bulgaria to Ukraine, and Brazil to India, we witness the rise of an angry urban middle class protesting against what they see as fundamental corruption of their politicalregimes, perceived as predatory and inefficient. Corruption is near the top of all global protesters’ list of grievances – from the Occupy movement to the Arab Spring. There is increasing demand for good governance resulting in quality education and health systems, and denunciation of sheer bread and circus populism. Volume 2 of the ANTICORRP Anticorruption Report tackles these issues across key cases and developments.

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

Why Eastern Europeans did not vote

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“I vote, you vote, he/ she votes, we vote, you vote, they vote? , #they rob us!” (Photo from: Uniti Salvam)

By Alina Mungiu-Pippidi

The night before the European elections I dragged myself – despite not being in top form – to plead for one hour by myself in a TV talk show that my Romanian countrymen should vote the next day. A boycott had been called by a group of Facebook activists under the catchy slogan: “Always voting for the lesser evil amounts in the end to choosing an evil.” As turnout in the previous elections for European parliament in Romania (when I declined being a candidate for the President’s party unless his daughter, a model, stepped down) had been 27%, I was worried that the boycott call would be answered massively in all urban areas. In poor rural areas subsistence farmers are ferried to vote by political entrepreneurs. Leaving Romania, a country of 18 million voters, to be represented by its poorest and most disempowered voters seemed to me an extraordinary forfeit of our efforts prior to 2007 to make the country join EU.

Voters have good reasons to be upset with politicians. They always do. Romania’s successive governments were unable to spend more than 25% of its EU development funds. Had the EU not introduced a rule allowing engaged money to be spent even after the end of the budgetary cycle (but not indefinitely), the opportunity costs would have been at about 18 billion Euro presently and they will probably stabilize at half of this. Romanian MEP Mr. Severin, filmed on tape taking money to pass legislation, was the only MEP who did not resign after the scandal. And at the current rate of growth, the trade with the rest of the Community might get some balance after 2019- until then Romania is a net importer. An op-ed of mine called “Futility of Joining the EU” got 50,000 likes on Facebook in a few hours last November. People do not blame the EU, but they blame their leaders, and for good reason, for wasting a historic opportunity.

But why boycott the vote? How would this help? I was still arguing, my eyes on the clock as the Champions League Final was approaching when I knew everyone would switch the channel, that this will be the strongest Parliament still on record. That issues everybody is concerned with, from Ukraine to fracking (hydraulic fracturing) are far more likely to be decided in Brussels than Bucharest. That the elections for European parliament might not always be, if people like Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen win (they did). At the gas station on the way back home people then asked me how would they even know who in Brussels favors fracking and who is against. They had no idea. In one month of domestic political bickering otherwise known as an ‘electoral campaign’ nobody had told them anything and since they work all day long, they don’t have time to search on the Internet.

All over ‘new’ Europe voters, even in capitals, do not know what these elections were about. This is why only 17% of Slovaks came out to vote (Romanians actually outdid themselves with over 30% turning out this time). People have absolutely no idea:

  • What is decided in their capitals and what in Brussels;
  • What is the position of the European parties on major issues;
  • How their national parties position themselves on issues compared to their EU party family.

In my experience as a pollster, I frequently used a question called “subjective competence” where I asked people: Do you know enough on voters and candidates to make an informed choice? This question is the best predictor of turnout. People do not come out to vote in EU elections in the East because they don’t know the issues and the candidates and they are aware of their ignorance. Their leaders and media failed in informing them during their national disputes and scattered efforts such as mine were too disparate to matter.

According to the Eurobarometer, Eastern Europeans, unlike their Western counterparts, continue to trust EU institutions more than they trust their national politicians. But as national politicians are the ones claiming votes on behalf of the EU, confusion and skepticism reign supreme. And this is how the continent’s perhaps last untapped reserve of Euro-enthusiasts fall out of Europe’s politics.

The Real Fight in Ukraine

by Niklas Kossow

Since Victor Yanukovich fled Ukraine in February, the situation in the country has become more and more tense. After a highly disputed referendum, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and pro-Russian separatists have taken over the control of several cities in the east of the country. Ahead of the presidential elections on 25 May heavy fighting in the south and the east has lead observers to portray Ukraine as being on the brink of civil war. While the fighting between separatists and the interim government is on going, Ukrainian civil society is continuing an fight of its own: the fight for political reforms and against corruption.

Svitlana Zalishchuk is coordinating a group of the most important reform-orientated civil society groups in Ukraine. For her reforms are part of the “dialogue that has to be proposed to the Southern and Eastern regions”. While the protests on Kiev’s Maidan square were triggered by the refusal of the Ukrainian government to sign the negotiated association agreement with the EU, they soon were aimed against a corrupt political system which is not accountable to its own people. The Maidan movement was a broad coalition of activists, representatives of civil society organisations and ordinary citizens. Many of the actors were already involved in the Orange Revolution. Ten years on they have learned from previous mistakes and want to achieve genuine change of the political system.

Following the regime change in February 2014, Ukraine finds itself at a critical juncture. A broad coalition of civil society actors has come together to push forward a “Reanimation Reform Package”. Anti-corruption reforms are a particular focus of the initiative. Since the coalition formed in February, their work has been both ambitious and impressive. They currently unite more than 170 individuals and organisations active in Ukraine. With expert groups, media campaigning and lobbying they put forward, for instance, reforms a law on access to information, a crucial tool in fighting corruption. They assembled a cross-party group of 24 members of parliament who meet regularly to discuss the possibility for reforms and pledged to lobby their parliamentary groups. With their reform initiative civil society leaders want to use this window of opportunity to push through the systemic changes needed to overcome corruption that defined Ukrainian politics since its independence.

Money laundering and corruption loopholes were a trademark of the former regime. “The system changes only if these key corruption loopholes are closed” says Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Kiev-based “Anti-Corruption Action Center” (AntAC). While the organisation lobbies for reforms within Ukraine, they are also active in getting the support of governments abroad to recover assets that were shifted abroad by corrupt officials and by the members of the Yanukovich regime. Ukrainian civil society organisations and investigative journalists try to track this money. They call for international governments to freeze accounts of and help them in the legal procedures to repatriate assets. AntAC estimates that around US$100 billion were shifted abroad by the Yanukovich regime. It pushes for the recovered money to be invested in charitable funds used for long term investments and reconstruction to reach visible outcomes in the fight against corruption.

International governments and organisations can make a difference by supporting Ukrainian civil society. Their pressure helps to implement reforms. Even more important though is the support of the Ukrainian people. Svitlana Zalishchuk highlights the difficulty to mobilise Ukrainian citizens and the need for civil society to “learn how to connect to the people”. Popular support is a problem and needed, just as much as political support. While Yanukovich has gone, the majority of the political elite has stayed and many of them have a track record of corruption. Consensus and political support consensus for anti-corruption reforms is hence hard to reach. While laws are passed, compliance is not always assured.

The presidential elections on 25 May are a crucial step in the reform process. For Daria Kaleniuk hopes that a legitimate president would be able to call for parliamentary elections which could take place this autumn. Activists are already forming new parties, which aim to promote accountability and which may end up in parliament. The “Reanimation Reform Package” coalition hopes that a newly legitimised parliament will help to implement the reform process and make politics in Ukraine more accountable. Ukrainian civil society activists are determined to continue their fight for one of the principle aims of the Maidan movement: a transparent and accountable government.

Ultimately, successfully implementing reforms may also be the key to solving the conflict in the south and east of Ukraine. Daria Kaleniuk hopes that if Ukraine becomes a country in which “human rights are protected, where you can have actual jobs with a decent salary that allows you to live in dignity and not to take or give bribes, this will be a powerful argument to those in the South and East of Ukraine to stay in the country.” While the fights in Eastern Ukraine are continuing, it is important that the presidential elections are able to take place. “Only when there is a new, legitimate government it will be possible to have systemic reforms.”

While peace in Ukraine and the unity of the country seem fragile, the fight for reforms and against corruption might be more crucial than most people realise.

Niklas Kossow will graduate from the Hertie School of Governance Master of Public Policy programme at the end of May 2014.

New Grassroots Anti-corruption Revolutions Discussed at NED

National Endowment for Democracy hosted Alina Mungiu-Pippidi for a talk in Washington, DC where she argued that the demand for good governance erupting in grassroots movements in Egypt, India, Ukraine, Turkey and Brazil should be seen as a second phase of transition to democracy as global constituencies are no longer satisfied with elections alone and demand more equality of treatment from governments everywhere.

Mungiu-Pippidi shared data from the research project ANTICORRP showing that favoritism of governments in relation to citizens is the number one cause of high perceptions of corruption and criticized the global corruption movement for neglecting this phenomenon. She also expressed skepticism towards top down anti-corruption reforms, arguing that in countries where corruption is widespread the spoliation of public resources could be described as a pyramid, with people on top spoiling the most. She furthermore encouraged those who care about promoting democracy to invest in structuring this growing demand for new government.

Mungiu-Pippidi concluded her presentation by describing three situations in which such countries may find themselves, and corresponding policy approaches:

  • The first situation requires the presence of a strong and autonomous civil society. In this situation, those who lose from corruption are strong and organized enough to take action. They are the main drivers of change, and as an approach, anti-corruption strategies should be aimed at helping them achieve their goals.
  • The second situation is where those who lose from corruption are not strong and organized enough to take action. Instead of directly pursuing anti-corruption strategies, the recommended approach is to develop civil society capacity to be autonomous in the future.
  • The third situation is one in which there are no significant domestic losers meaning that no corresponding anti-corruption strategy is needed except in terms of aid distribution.

The new data is from an upcoming ANTICORRP report, an extensive quantitative analysis of causes of achievement and stagnation in the global fight against corruption. The report also argues that particularly in countries where corruption is the norm, top-down reforms are ineffective.