On 29 January 2019, the Transparency International (TI), a leading coruption monitoring organization, published its annual report, Corruption Perception Index 2018, on the corruption in 180 countries of the world: https://www.transparency.org/cpi2018 . The main conclusion has been that anti-corruption efforts in most countries were stalled. Graft is deeply rooted and does not retreat. To the contrary, it is an important factor in undermining democracy and in its crisis throughout the world.
To improve the situation, the TI suggests several parallel activities. Democratic institutions in a broader sense have to be preserved and strenghtened. That means free and fair elections that guarantee possibilities for a peaceful change of government, strong and independent institutions that act according to laws and not under a dictate of daily politics, political rights, and civil rights and liberties including opportunities for civil society to closely monitor elected officials, whistle blow at irregularities and launch lawsuits in front of independent judicial bodies.
The latest phenomenon which TI has noticed has been a growing gap between anti-corruption legislation, which has improved in quality and adherence to the recommendations of international anti-graft experts on one and poor implementation of those laws in practice on the other hand. More robustly put: the gap between where politicians or other mighty put their mouth and where they get their money from is growing. Populism is in the rise worldwide, whereby populists often win by campaigning against the alleged maximal imaginable corruption by the „alienated elites“, while they, once in power, very often behave worse than those elites and uphold even less transparency.
Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), in its project Freedom Barometer Europe, monitors various aspects of freedom in 45 countries of Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia: www.freedombarometer.org . To achieve that, Freedom Barometer index is developed, as a composite tool including indices drawn by various reliable international organizations. To measure corruption in the framework of measuring the rule of law, FNF uses TI`s Corruption Perception Index.
Among countries monitored by the FNF, most have shown roughly equal or even more vulnerability to corruption than in previous years. Between 2012 and 2018, statistically significant improvements have been noticed in only 7 out of 45 countries: Czechia and Italy (each by 10/100 points), Estonia, Latvia and Greece (each by 9 points), Austria (by 7 points), and United Kingdom and Ukraine (each by 6 points). At the same time, statistically significant downfall and return of the graft was spotted in Hungary (by 9/100 points) and Turkey (by 8 points). In Albania, considerable backlash has been visible since 2013, while in Malta also, since 2015.
General impression arising from the most recent data and rankings has been that autocratic tendecies, as well as populism, contribute to the resurrection or worsening of corruption, while countries that boldly implement pro-market economic reforms and couple those with strong, modernized institutions and with civil society capable of monitoring and checking those institutions for being accountable to citizens show better results, or, as in case of Estonia, even spectacularly advance.