The think-tank Transparency International has published the 2018 version of its Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which the organization has been running since 1995. The index, which looks at 180 countries, revealed that more than two-thirds of countries scored less than 50 out of 100 in this year's CPI.
According to the CPI, the least corrupted countries in the world are Denmark in first place with a CPI of 88, New Zealand in second with 87, and then Finland, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland in joint third with 85. The most corrupted were Somalia with 10 out of 100, South Sudan and Syria with 13, and North Korea and Yemen with 14.
The report shows that some countries have indeed made progress against corruption. Since 2012, countries such as Estonia in Europe, Senegal, Côte D’Ivoire in Africa, and Guyana in South America have improved their scores significantly. The other side of the coin is that not many countries have successfully tackled corruption, and in many cases, their score has decreased.
All the Top Six countries' scores have decreased since 2015. Examples of other notable drops in scores include Australia, Hungary, and Turkey. For the first time since 2011, the United States is out of the Top 20, going from 75 in 2017 to 71 in 2018. The US along with Brazil and the Czech Republic have been highlighted as countries to watch by the CPI.
The CPI also highlights how the systemic failure of countries to get corruption under control is contributing to the crisis of democracy we are witnessing around the World. No “Full Democracy” scores below 50 on the CPI and a handful of autocratic states do.
“Our research makes a clear link between having a healthy democracy and successfully fighting public sector corruption,” Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International, said in a statement. “Corruption is much more likely to flourish where democratic foundations are weak and, as we have seen in many countries, where undemocratic and populist politicians can use it to their advantage.”
Transparency International is calling on governments to close the implementation gap between anti-corruption legislation, its practice, and its enforcement. It would like to see the official institution strengthen and the system of checks and balances work healthily. It is also crucial that citizens can speak out against corruption, that they can hold governments accountable, and that there’s a free press to report on this.