Increasing levels of public sector corruption worldwide are providing fertile ground to rising populist politicians, according to the annual index of perceived corruption.
Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index 2016 – which ranks 176 countries on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) – shows that more countries have declined than improved compared with figures for last year.
More than two-thirds (69%) of the states included in the index scored less than 50 out of 100, and were therefore judged to have a serious corruption problem. Last year’s index struck a more optimistic note, with more countries improving than doing worse.
According to Transparency International, the increasing perception of corruption in public services – and the impunity enjoyed by those who profit from it – is increasingly pushing countries towards populist politicians who promise to change the system and break the cycle of corruption and privilege.
“However this is likely to only exacerbate the issue,” says José Ugaz, chair of Transparency International. “In countries with populist or autocratic leaders, we often see democracies in decline and a disturbing pattern of attempts to crack down on civil society, limit press freedom and weaken the independence of the judiciary. Instead of tackling crony capitalism, those leaders usually install even worse forms of corrupt systems.”
Ugaz points to the scores of Hungary and Turkey, which have fallen with the rise of autocratic leaders. By way of contrast, he highlights the improvement in Argentina’s ranking since it…
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