Wednesday, 29 July 2009


Political Reasons for Failures of Anti-corruption Crusades

Politically, there are many reasons why anti-corruption reforms do not take root.

First, it may be that the crusade was never a serious attempt at reform, with the government simply reacting to a scandal or, in the case of many developing countries, external pressure from donors. If a government is simply going through the motions, it may not put the right people or adequate resources into the crusade. This will result in the crusade not having any serious impact or simply fizzling out. For example, when the Turkish Parliament began investigating allegations of corruption of its two former Prime Ministers, it looked like the beginning of a serious anti-corruption crusade. However, current media reports of the Parliament clearing them of these charges have fueled speculations that the campaign is not serious and “a safe political exercise.”

Second, a government may use the excuse of an anti-corruption crusade to carry out witch hunts of its opponents. Under such circumstances, people will become uneasy about whistle-blowing or exposing corruption as they do not know the real motives for such an exercise. In fact, the seeming singling out or framing of innocent individuals would quickly blow the credibility of such a "reform."

Third, a government may be very serious about fighting corruption but do not take the time and the effort to consult and get the buy-in of its social partners: businesses and civil society entities. Without a national consensus, even a genuine anti-corruption crusade driven by a government may be misconstrued or not be supported by the rest of society.

Fourth, a government may genuinely start an anti-corruption campaign and be put out of power or shift its political priorities. This type of scenario calls for a need to also ensure that opposition is also on board of anti-corruption crusades. Then, even when there is a transition of power or a shift in political priorities, the opposition will either come into power or put pressure on the government to continue on with reforms. The importance of involving the opposition parties is illustrated by what is currently happening in Japan. The opposition-proposed bill to prevent political corruption through banning lawmakers from receiving goods in return for political favours has mobilized some members of the ruling party to agitate for their party to take action on this front.

Anti-Corruption Summit 2000: United Nations Presentation(excerpt)

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