The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2016 ranks Turkey in 75th place, compared to the ranking of 66th it was given in the CPI 2015.
The latest CPI, issued on 25 January, was published with a Transparency International (TI) analysis entitled “Corruption and Inequality: How populists mislead people”. It warns that populist leaders such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, US President Donald Trump and Hungarian PM Viktor Orban “appear almost immune to challenges about unethical and corrupt behaviour”.
Turkey’s CPI 2016 score is 41 compared to the 42 it scored in the previous year’s index. Some 69 per cent of the 176 ranked countries scored below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean), exposing how substantial and pervasive public sector corruption is around the world. This year more countries fell in the index than rose, demonstrating the pressing need for action.
In April, Turkey’s voters will go to the polls in a referendum on whether or not Erdogan should be made an executive president with sweeping powers that critics describe as frighteningly authoritarian but which his supporters claim are necessary to fight the scourges of terrorism, plots designed to undermine national security and economic fragility.
The TI analysis, authored by Finn Heinrich, cautioned: “While Turkey and Hungary have declined on the Corruption Perceptions Index since the election of populist leaders and Venezuela has been near the bottom of the table for years, the populist leaders seem to be more invincible than ever.
“As history shows, turning back the corruption tide is often as hard as preventing a phony corruption fighter from getting into office in the first place. To pre-empt this, mainstream governments need to get much more serious about breaking the vicious cycle between corruption and social inequality.”
Remedies, the analysis said, should include stopping the revolving door between business leaders and high-ranking government positions; holding the corrupt to account rather than letting corrupt officials hide behind political immunity; enforcing greater controls on banks, luxury goods sellers, lawyers and real estate agents who help launder corrupt money; and outlawing the use of secret companies that hide the identity of the real owners
The analysis concluded: “These proposals require the investment of substantial political capital by government leaders to confront entrenched interests. It is in the interests of democratic governments to use that capital so that they can again deliver on their central promise to provide equal opportunities for all.”
Summing up the findings of the CPI 2016, TI chair José Ugaz said: “In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity. We do not have the luxury of time. Corruption needs to be fought with urgency, so that the lives of people across the world improve.”
People are fed up with too many politicians’ giving empty assurances that they will tackle corruption and many voters are thus unwisely turning towards populist politicians who pledge to break the cycle of corruption and privilege, but instead go on to exacerbate the situation, Ugaz noted.
He concluded: “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.
“Only where there is freedom of expression, transparency in all political processes and strong democratic institutions can civil society and the media hold those in power to account and corruption be fought successfully.”
Denmark and New Zealand perform best in the 2016 TI index with scores of 90. Close behind were Finland (89) and Sweden (88). For the 10th year running, Somalia is the worst performer on the index. Its score this year is only 10. South Sudan is second to bottom with 11, followed by North Korea (12) and Syria (13).
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