The US has lost four points since last year, dropping out of the top 20 countries for the first time since 2011 © Sipa USA/PA Images
The US has lost four points since last year, dropping out of the top 20 countries for the first time since 2011 © Sipa USA/PA Images

Corruption leading to 'crisis of democracy'

29 January 2019

The US, Hungary and Brazil are among the countries to have slipped significantly down Transparency International’s (TI) latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

The 2018 CPI bemoaned the “continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption”, which was contributing to a “crisis of democracy around the world”.

Since 2012 only 20 countries have significantly improved their ranking, while 16 have significantly declined, including Australia, Chile and Malta.

However, improved countries included Côte D’Ivoire, Senegal and Guyana, as well as Estonia.

“With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe – often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies – we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights,” said Patricia Moreira, managing director of TI.

“Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption.”

Countries are scored out of 100, with the higher the score, the lower the level of corruption.

Topping the 2018 index were Denmark and New Zealand, with 88 and 87 points respectively.  Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria held the three lowest positions.

Hungary and Turkey have seen particularly rapid falls over the last five years, their score decreasing by eight and nine points respectively in that period, leading Turkey to be downgraded from “partly free” to “not free”. Hungary registered its lowest score in the political rights category since the fall of communism in 1989.

The US has lost four points since last year to 71, dropping out of the top 20 countries for the first time since 2011. The UK lost two points and stood at 10th place on the index with a score of 80, equal to Germany.

“The low score comes at a time when the US is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power,” said TI.

Brazil also dropped two points since last year, resulting in its lowest CPI score in seven years. “Alongside promises to end corruption, the country’s new president has made it clear that he will rule with a strong hand, threatening many of the democratic milestones achieved by the country,” said TI.  

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