Background paper on Costa Rica

In spite of the economic and social policy successes of Latin America’s longest surviving democracy, corruption has become a major problem shaking Costa Ricans’ confidence in appointed and elected public officials. In response to the apparent rise in corruption since the start of the new millennium, governments have introduced new laws and created new agencies to combat corruption at all levels of society, with an emphasis on combating particularism by elected and appointed public officials. This report evaluates the apparent increase in corruption, the efforts to limit, expose, and prosecute corrupt acts, and the factors that have facilitated the rise in corrupt actions on the part of state officials and private citizens. In short, acts of corruption that may have previously gone unnoticed (at least unproven) are now exposed by a more aggressive media and prosecuted by new and/or stronger state anti-corruption agencies and laws in response to multiple major political corruption scandals of the early 2000s. State prosecutors show no deference in their investigations of corruption and/or illicit enrichment by public officials and private figures, no matter how powerful. The only limitation is the level of resources available to these agencies. The contemporary increase in the scope of corruption is not in the quotidian actions of low-level officials directly affecting the lives of ordinary citizens, but in influence trading and manipulation of formal processes. A separate, more recent and growing corruption problem comes from international drug cartels that have amplified their activities and money laundering in Costa Rica that some fear might outstrip the state’s capacity to keep corruption under control.

Background paper on Estonia

As in all transition countries, corruption has been and remains a concern for Estonia. Still the country is an obvious top-achiever in comparison with the rest of the post-communist area. On the other hand, the last decade has been stable with the level of corruption almost unchanged and representing a certain plateau in development. The Estonian governance regime operates mostly in line with the principle of ethical universalism. Reportedly all key elements of the state are subject to quite high formal standards of transparency. Correct functioning of the public procurement system is the rule, and violations, although common, are more of an exception. Estonia appears to have a high level of equity of access to its education and healthcare systems.The search for causes of Estonia’s success often focuses on cultural factors. The high general level of interpersonal trust in the Estonian society is an unusual cultural feature of a post-soviet society. Plus the civil society and free media represent high normative constraints for corruption and particularism. It has been argued that in the beginning of 1990’s, Estonia experienced the most radical replacement of the political elite compared with Latvia and Lithuania where the old “nomenklatura” networks managed to perpetuate to a much larger extent. The new Estonian elite was willing and ready for thorough reforms of the judiciary and public administration.

Background Paper on Chile

This report examines the successful performance of Chile to control corruption. It discusses the importance of structural and institutional factors that have shaped Chilean political development and its political economy and then it analyses the mechanisms implemented to achieve such a goal.

Background paper on Bulgaria

The Worldwide Governance Indicators show that Bulgaria has made significant progress in the area of “control of corruption” since 1996. This finding contrasts with the general opinion of the Bulgarian population who perceive Bulgarian institutions as corrupt, and contradicts the decision of the European Commission to continue monitoring Bulgaria’s progress in fighting corruption and organized crime. Hence, there is a need for careful consideration and analysis to understand how much progress Bulgaria has really made in the fight against corruption. Can Bulgaria be considered an anti-corruption success story?

Background paper on Botswana

When compared to its African peers, Botswana is globally acknowledged for its relatively good democratic governance, prudent economic management and sustained multi-party system of government. Botswana’s postcolonial leaders have been given credit for their visionary leadership which has successfully blended modern and traditional institutions to create a participatory and economically viable democracy from an originally poverty-stricken country that was still being governed under traditional ideas of leadership when it achieved independence in 1966. Botswana has used the rule of law to transform a semi-autocratic traditional governance system of chiefs and associated centralised decision-making structures into relatively representative and transparent institutions of central and local government. The current system of governance is largely anchored in principles of both competition and merit as modes of operation, but although corruption  was not a critical challenge during the country’s earlier post-independence years, in the two decades from about 1990 it has become a serious and growing feature of Botswana´s society. This case study analyses the evolution of corruption as a major challenge to the sustaining of Botswana’s democratic and development. The main aim of this country report is to establish by use of meaningful indicators the state of corruption in Botswana and to depict societal responses in their attempts to control it.

Background paper on Qatar

Qatar is judged by international anti-corruption indices to be among the highest performing countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The Qatari government has streamlined its regulations regarding business practices and engaged in reforms from above that have liberalized the Qatari economy and increased its strength and viability. However, Qatar is a neo-patrimonial absolute monarchy in which the state is not immune from private interests, and where the ruling family can bypass the rule of law. The complete control by the monarch of state institutions and policies leaves no space for bottom-up calls for reform, or for independent assessment of the performance of the state and the actions of the ruling family by civil society and the media. The permeation of informal networks (mainly in the form of tribal relations) within state institutions and civil society, the lack of interest in and avenues for political participation among Qatari citizens, and the clientelistic relationship between citizens and the state support the continuation of this status quo. This paper analyses the structures and mechanisms of Qatar’s governance regime that reveal the contradictions inherent within the categories covered by anti-corruption indices. In doing so, it suggests a number of shortcomings in the methodologies and scope of those indices as they specifically apply to Qatar, and poses a number of questions regarding the kind of information that is difficult to find but which is crucial to address in order to form a clearer picture of corruption and anti-corruption practices in Qatar. The paper concludes that the absence of this information in the first place casts a shadow of doubt over the performance of Qatar in anti-corruption indices. Also, the indices’ focus on measuring the scope of state functions while not measuring the strength of state institutions is a key reason behind the discrepancy between Qatar’s anti-corruption ranking and the mechanisms and structure of its governance regime. Instead, the paper proposes specific indicators related to the governance regime that allow for a more comprehensive look at corruption and anti-corruption practices in Qatar.

Bulgarian Anti-Corruption Reforms: A Lost Decade?

The Worldwide Governance Indicators show that Bulgaria has made significant progress in the area of “control of corruption” since 1996. This finding contrasts with the general opinion of the Bulgarian population who perceive Bulgarian institutions as corrupt, and contradicts the decision of the European Commission to continue monitoring Bulgaria’s progress in fighting corruption and organised crime. Hence, there is a need for careful consideration and analysis to understand how much progress Bulgaria has really made in the fight against corruption. Can Bulgaria be considered an anti-corruption success story?

In this paper, the authors seek to answer the above questions by providing a background analysis on Bulgaria’s governance regime. According to research, Bulgaria has made some progress in its transition from patrimonialism to open access order but the main features of its governance regime remain these of competitive particularism. In legal terms Bulgaria displays some open access order features but they do not translate into practical implementation.

Following the country’s EU accession in 2007 progress has been uneven, and has mostly been driven by civil society demands for change, which culminated in mass street protests in 2013. Progress in the political corruption domain has been limited. Power distribution in Bulgaria has opened up to competition but is still concentrated in few political party leaders and powerful business conglomerates, interlinked in a complex web of dependencies with former secret service and communist party elites, which still have privileged access to state resources. Convictions, in particular of high-ranking politicians and administrators are non-existent or rare, a sign that the rule of law and accountability have not yet taken hold in the country.

Becoming Denmark: Historical Designs of Corruption Control

Why do some societies manage to control corruption so it manifests itself only occasionally, as an exception, while other societies do not and remain systemically corrupt? And is the superior performance of this first group of countries a result of what they do or of who they are? Most current anticorruption strategies presume the former, which is why institutions from developed and well-governed countries are currently being copied all around the world. At least on paper, there are few states left that are missing a constitutional court, some form of checks and balances, or an ombudsman (the number of countries with these elements grew from 47 in 1990, 100 in 2003 and 135 by 2008). Skeptics, on the other hand, endorse the latter view, believing in the cultural determinism of corruption and good governance. More recently, following the failure of the first generation of anticorruption reforms, a middle-ground position has begun to emerge: that the most relevant lessons lie not in what developed countries are currently doing to control corruption but rather in what they have done in thepast, when their societies more strongly resembled the conditions in today’s developing world (Andrews 2008). However, as this subject area is largely unknown to governance scholars and practitioners alike, it is difficult even to estimate the potential value of such historical lessons. I plan to address this gap by asking not how corruption is eradicated but rather how societies have built—over time—systems to protect their common resources from being spoiled by individuals or groups.

The Legacies of 1989: The Transformative Power of Europe Revisited

Why has the EU succeeded in promoting democracy in the new member states but failed in promoting good governance?  This essay seeks to answer this question first by distinguishing governance from political regimes, and second by exploring to what extent national governance—which is defined as the set of formal and informal institutions that determine who gets what in a given country—is susceptible to being improved by external pressure or intervention. It concludes that improving governance remains a challenge even for the democratic character of the European project.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Controlling Corruption in the European Union

For many years corruption was seen as a problem only of developing countries, while the European Union (EU) on the contrary was the temple of the rule of law, exporting good governance both to its own peripheries and worldwide. Many European countries indeed remain among the best governed in the world, although the downfall of the Santer Commission on charges of corruption, the enlargement of the EU by its incorporation of new member countries with unfinished transitions, and the economic crisis all strongly indicate that control of corruption is difficult to build and hard to sustain. Older member countries Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have all regressed rather than progressed since they joined – the first two of them to worrying levels – and that has raised doubts about the EU’s transformative effect on its members.

Ottomans into Europeans: State and Institution-building in South Eastern Europe

While many histories of the Balkans have been published, some very good and others poor, there is as yet no history of institutions in the Balkans. This is what the contributors to Ottomans into European offer the reader: a history of the most salient political institutions of the region: bureaucracies, judiciaries, democratic elections, free media, local and central government – and their frequently strained relations with traditional institutions. They also examine the selection, evolution, and performance of institutions in the post-Ottoman Balkans, and try to account for variations throughout the region. In writing this institutional history of the Balkans the contributors set themselves two key questions: did the post-Ottoman wave of Europeanization and Western-type institution building fail in the Balkans, and does this explain the region’s continuing political fragility? And if this is the case, are there underlying structural determinants explaining that failure which might manifest themselves again in present attempts to re-integrate the region, from Turkey to Albania?

You can find more informaiton and purchase the book here.

Reviews for this publication

In this agreeable little book Andrei Pippidi gives an elegant survey of a field that has been much studied in recent years.”
Times Literary Supplement

An extremely important contribution to the scholarly literature on the Balkans. … By exploring the original transition in the Balkans – from the Ottoman Empire to ‘Europe’ – it will also be relevant to those working on the current transition in the region from communism to liberal-democracy and the EU.”
Dr Dejan Djokic, University of London

“Ottomans into Europeans examines an earlier ‘transition’ of the Balkans. The volume is a trans-national approach to the problems faced by the states and societies of the south-eastern peninsula of Europe as they emerged from dynastic empires. They aspired, however clumsily, to become again fully part of Europe with the belief that western political institutions were a source of stability and prosperity. That was before the clash between Nazi-fascism and communism brought that first transition to an end. Scholars, students and other readers interested in the current transition of the region – which could be called ‘communists to Europeans’ – will learn from this study of models, choices and change in an earlier phase of post-imperial state-building.”  Professor Stevan Pavlowitch, author, Hitler’s New Disorder: The Second World War in Yugoslavia

For anyone interested in the Balkans this is the right book at the right time. Just as the Balkans return to Europe and Greece, given its current difficulties, returns to the Balkans, this book is a timely examination of key historical issues essential for an understanding of state and society today, especially in the light of the great project of the age, European integration.
Tim Judah, Balkans Correspondent, The Economist

Moldova’s “Twitter Revolution”

Few Europeans had heard of Moldova, a tiny state on the EU’s eastern flank, before seeing images of the strife that broke out there in early April 2009 after the Communist Party (PCRM) won reelection in a landslide. Except for their international context, the events in Moldova did not differ substantially from those that sparked the color revolutions in Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine, but this difference in context led to a different outcome. What was missing in Moldova? The short answer is a unified opposition that could put itself in the driver’s seat.