corruption

God, Luck and Politics: A Brief History of Graft in Hungary

Corruption is deeply embedded in Hungary, with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán shielded by a cluster of wealthy bosses with close personal and political ties to the leader. “God, luck and Viktor Orbán certainly played a role in what I’ve achieved so far,” is how Lőrinc Mészáros, the Hungarian Prime Minister’s childhood friend explained his unprecedented […]

Korea’s Anti-Corruption Efforts an Inspiration for Other Countries

South Korea has recently strengthened its anti-corruption policy. The BTI and other international benchmarks note that institutional changes such as the Kim Young-ran Act are now bearing fruit. There has been less success in curbing corruption and influence peddling by big business groups. Anti-corruption is an important pillar for the current South Korean government. This […]

Untold Billions, Too Little Change

Energy policy is a crucial and often underappreciated cause for public discontent. Most severe irregularities occur in opaque upstream deals. The EITI multistakeholder initiative has significant unrealized potential to inform the public about irregularities around energy governance. Failed resource governance remains one of the leading causes of civil unrest in resource-rich countries, exhibited en masse […]

Dark Days for Democracy?

Democracy and the rule of law are suffering in many countries, with the rise of “illiberal” democracies or even outright dictatorships. Why is that? And what makes it a cause of serious concern for the global community? News-watchers are by now long-familiar with the narrative of the steady rise of populism in Western countries. What […]

Election in Brazil: Testing a Fragile Democracy

Economic malaise is pushing Brazilians towards outsider parties in the run-up to the October vote. But with no candidate promising to undertake much-needed economic reform, the country’s woes look set to continue. Brazil has rarely had it so bad. As the 2000s boom in commodity prices waned, the country’s gross domestic product plummeted. Unemployment reached […]

Cambodian Elections: Hun Sen’s unbroken dominance

Cambodia’s vote in July is designed to confirm strongman Hun Sen. After quashing the opposition, he is geared up to extend his 33-year stint at the top. The result of Cambodia’s parliamentary elections on 29 July is already fixed. After dissolving popular oppositional Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in November 2017, Prime Minister Hun Sen […]

How to Boost East African Economies?

This month’s African Union Summit is poised to probe widespread corruption but a closer look at East Africa also reveals other pressing issues, not least rising political uncertainty, economic instability and violence. With the 31st African Union Summit around the corner, the African Development Bank recently underscored its support for East Africa’s bid for industrialization. […]

Populists on Both Sides of the Wall?

Ahead of the Mexican election in July, a leftwing populist is the clear frontrunner amid exasperation with political corruption and snail-paced social reform. The Mexican presidential race was probably over the minute it began. Recent polls consistently put leftist populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador ahead, with a lead of at least 10 points versus the […]

Mercosur: Crisis-Ridden and Pronounced Dead but Still Alive

South American countries are far too busy with their scandals and crises to be making progress with economic and political integration. And yet those crises could be exactly what gives Mercosur its second wind. The news coming out of Brazil recently is reminiscent of a political thriller. A president deposed under questionable circumstances (Dilma Rousseff) […]

Do Strongmen Govern Better?

In many developing and transition countries, people are looking for simple solutions and flirt with authoritarianism. This trend will have dire consequences because autocracies are hopelessly inferior to democracies in the long term. Within just a few days, the leaders of the two most influential autocracies, China and Russia, have set the course for continuity […]

Mauritius: Ready for a Second Economic Miracle?

On March 12, 2018, Mauritius celebrates 50 years of independence. The country is proud of its economic progress and the government has set an ambitious goal: to transform the remote island state into a high-income country within the next few years. What is the origin of the Mauritian success story? In 1961 Nobel-prize-winning British economist […]

Peaceful Olympics amid Thawing Tensions

On 9 February the Pyeongchang Olympics will be opened. This means that South Korea will be the first country examined by the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) to host both summer and winter games. We fact-check the 2018 Olympics through the looking glass of selected criteria and indicators of our index, which will be published in […]

Brazil: The Drama of Unpredictability

Uncertainty about the 2018 presidential elections, which will be held in October, weigh heavily on Brazil. A court decision this week may cost former president Lula da Silva his candidacy. As Brazil braces for its most important election in decades, hopes of stabilization are dwindling. The country is slowly stepping out of an almost three-year […]

Moldova’s European Integration Is on Hold

In late November, the leaders of the European Union met with six Eastern Partnership countries in Brussels to review what has been achieved since their last summit in 2015. A matter of concern was the former symbol of hope: Moldova. Just a few years ago, Moldova used to be seen as success story of the […]

Somaliland after the Elections: Old Traps, New Challenges

Despite the lack of international recognition, Somaliland has created a relatively stable enclave in the unsecure region of the Horn of Africa. However, the successful consensus politics of the past decades shows first deep cracks. Is Somaliland falling into the old traps of clan rivalries and foreign geopolitical interests? The Republic of Somaliland is recognised as […]

The Albatross around the ANC’s Neck

Last summer, President Jacob Zuma was celebrating his narrow success of surviving another no-confidence vote. But while the ANC’s 54th National Elective Conference is approaching, many within the governing party are beginning to count the cost of a leader who lacks the public’s trust. In December 2007, delegates at the National Elective Conference of South Africa’s ruling African […]

Why Optimism is Fading in Pakistan

70 years after independence, Pakistan is caught in political chaos, and it seems as if the reasons to be optimist about the country’s democratic future got fewer. Next years’ elections could turn out to be a crossroads in its history. In a historic yet controversial decision in July 2017, Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified former PM […]

Moon Jae-in at a rally in Seoul, by Jee Su Na, via flickr.com, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Is South Korea’s New President up to the Job?

Former human-rights attorney Moon Jae-in has won the South Korean presidential elections. His supporters expect above all a fight against cronyism and fundamental economic reforms. Relations with neighbors and allies are tense. On Wednesday, Moon Jae-in was sworn in for a five-year term as South Korea’s president. Winning 41 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s […]

Photo: President of South Africa Jacob Zuma

State Capture in South Africa

A recently-released report on State Capture indicates that one family could seemingly succeed in skewing the spending priorities of the government in Pretoria. It’s a crisis induced by weak state institutions and it has enraged many South Africans. South African Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela’s much anticipated report on state capture released on November 3, 2016 […]

President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivers a speech during the turnover rites of the Armed Forces of the Philippines

Duterte’s Plan to Revive Philippine Democracy

The Philippine president is working towards a constitutional amendment in favour of greater federalism and parliamentarism. Could this empower the country’s citizenry and strengthen democracy? And how does it fit in with Duterte’s controversial policies against drugs and crime? The new president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has garnered global attention for his controversial policies […]

Rio de Janeiro downtown and Favéla/Sugarloaf/Pain de Sucre

Political Doping on the Eve of the Olympics

Hardly any other country included in the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI) has been as diligent in combating corruption as Brazil. Indeed, the country’s prosecutors need all the resolve they can muster: Brazil’s political system has recently been shaken by several bribery scandals, which have contributed to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. An analysis. […]

Is Cambodia Becoming the Sick Man of Southeast Asia?

Lack of transparency, accountability and judicial independence as well as widespread corruption seem to be unalterable elements of Cambodia’s development process. Could the reform bottleneck harm the country’s economic prospects and how far will the regime go to stay in power? Sometimes odds and ends are enough to reveal the whole picture. In April 2016, […]

Rubble-strewn streets of Chautara in central Nepal May 2015 © IOM 2015 via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Nepal’s Mammoth Tasks after the Earthquake

The recent earthquake has dealt a serious blow to Nepal’s fragile economy and development. What priorities must the government set in order to revitalize the country and prepare it better for future catastrophes? The world has watched helplessly in April and May as heart-wrenching images stream in from Nepal. An estimated 8,500 people were killed […]

Xi Jinping, President of China

“It Has Become More Difficult to be Corrupt in China”

BTI Blog speaks with China expert Christian Göbel about Xi Jinping’s anticorruption campaign and how it is helping transform China from collectivist one-party rule to a one-person authoritarian system. BTI Blog: In Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI), China is among the countries with the largest decline in points, despite a high profile anti-corruption […]

Hery Rajaonarimampianina, President of the Republic of Madagascar, at UN Headquarters in New York © UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Madagascar’s Rocky Path to Democracy

After five years of political turmoil and economic standstill, Madagascar seems to be headed for recovery. The new democratic government wants to restore rule of law, tackle poverty, and foster growth. Yet the island remains burdened by a legacy of power struggles and corruption. The men open the heavy steel door of the container. This […]

© Sime Simon via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

An Appetite for Change?

While the Czech Republic shows signs of a new right direction to curb its corruption problem and bolster the rule of law, Russia is taking steps to bring its judiciary under even tighter control. This might also dim its economic future. On 13 June 2013, the Czech prime minister’s chief of staff, Jana Nagyova, was […]

São Paulo subway cars. © Luis F. Gallo (CC-BY-2.0)

Bridging the Corruption Gap in Brazil

Media and civil society in Brazil are quite successful at exposing corruption. The government should revisit laws, strengthen their enforcement, and engage in an anti-corruption forum with NGOs and businesses. The fight against corruption is an ever-present key issue in Brazilian media and society. It’s common knowledge that, despite Brazil’s vast economic potential and the […]

Police on Maidan square, December 2013 © maksymenko.com.ua

“Dignity in Ukraine is Violated Every Day”

Political scientists Iryna Solonenko and Vasyl Kosiv talk about the Maidan protests, the role of civil society and the fight for political accountability in Ukraine. BTI Blog: In early 2014, the Maidan is still occupied by demonstrators, and protests against President Yanukovych’s rule continue, seemingly unabated. What are the factors contributing to the opposition’s persistence, […]