Why have the third wave of democratisation and concurrent economic liberalisation, contrary to many expectations, failed to lower global corruption? This article comparatively assesses systemic corruption and other features of personal rule in Argentina, Venezuela, Indonesia, the Philippines, Kenya, and Zambia. It finds that systemic corruption in these countries persists despite political transitions and economic liberalisation, and that democratisation as the most important factor has not been “deep” enough to decisively influence the level of corruption. Moreover, systemic corruption does not work in isolation but goes hand-in-hand with clientelism, another feature of personal rule.
Warum haben die dritte Welle der Demokratisierung und die damit einhergehende ökonomische Liberalisierung, im Gegensatz zu den Erwartungen vieler, nicht zu nicht zu einem geringeren Ausmaß von Korruption geführt? Der vorliegende Aufsatz untersucht aus vergleichender Perspektive systemische Korruption und weitere Eigenschaften personalisierter Herrschaft in Argentinien, Venezuela, Indonesien, den Philippinen, Kenia und Sambia. Der Artikel kommt zu dem Schluss, dass systemische Korruption in diesen Ländern trotz politischer Transition und ökonomischer Liberalisierung fortbesteht und dass Demokratisierung als wichtigster Einflussfaktor nicht tief genug greift, um das Ausmaß von Korruption nachhaltig zu beeinflussen. Systemische Korruption geht zudem einher mit Klientelismus, einem weiteren Wesensmerkmal personalisierter Herrschaft.
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Other indices include the Corruption Perceptions Index (Transparency International), the Country Policy and Institution Assessment, CPIA (World Bank); the International Country Risk Guide, ICRG; the Global Integrity Index; and the Bertelsmann Transformation Index. For a critical voice on these indices, see Sindzingre/Milelli (2010).
This follows Geddes’ conceptualisation (1999, p. 116, fn. 1): “I counted an authoritarian regime as defunct if either the dictator and his supporters had been ousted from office or if a negotiated transition resulted in reasonably fair, competitive elections and a change in the party or individual occupying executive office.”
Cf. also the five building blocks of the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom in the World Index (Gwartney u. a. 2011). Those reflecting the three elements of economic liberalisation referred to above are (1) the regulation of credit, labour, and business; (2) the freedom to trade internationally; and (3) the size of the government.
This operationalisation, however, is fraught with problems, as it could also measure statehood. Here it is only taken as an indication for potential correlation. Montinola and Jackman also find that corruption is pervasive in low-income economies.
A different definition to the same effect was coined by Klitgaard (1997, p. 500–501): “Corruption equals monopoly plus discretion minus accountability”.
North (1990, p. 3), in his much-cited notion, defined institutions as “the rules of the game in a society or, more formally, […] the humanly devised constraints that shape human interaction.” Hence, this article is not concerned with individual forms of political and bureaucratic corruption, which can be found in every society and polity.
The scores are meant to provide a general overview of the six countries’ democratic features as assessed by Freedom House. Freedom House was selected for want of better alternatives capturing the same features (for critical assessments of indices assessing democracy and the rule of law, see Munck 2009; Skaaning 2010). Unfortunately, the “internal consistency of the data series is open to question” due to changes in methodology and coding (Munck and Verkuilen 2002, p. 21, fn. 13). Furthermore, Freedom House only provides the detailed break-down of subcategories from 2006 to today. Hence, it is not possible to follow up the long-term dynamics of these subcategories for a longer period and to compare scores over time. This would provide further information on the long-term effects of particular democratic features such as freedom of expression and belief. Furthermore, subcategory C “functioning of government” contains measures of corruption (Corruption Perceptions Index from Transparency International), so it is not disjunctive from the dependent variable. In the analysis, reference will be made to the other subcategories only.
Comparative data for these different features of neopatrimonialism were collected and calculated for the research project “Persistence and change of neopatrimonialism in various Non-OECD regions”, input from Nina Korte and Karsten Bechle is acknowledged. Cf. also von Soest et al. (2011).
The CPI and the Worldwide Governance Indicators assess multiple phenomena, e.g. both political and bureaucratic corruption. Both incorporate various studies in which experts give their perception on a country’s incidence of corruption. As most of these focus on the perspective of business, political corruption is underestimated (cf. Pech 2009, p. 8; Johnston 2005). In consequence, precise ranking of countries according to their corruption seems futile. However, as of now, only perception-based indicators of corruption have a world-wide coverage; attempts to empirically capture respondents’ personal experiences with corruption are only emerging and focus on specific countries or world regions (cf. Afrobarometer, for an example see Bratton 2007).
The analysis draws on the case studies carried out for the research project “Persistence and Change of Neopatrimonialism in Various Non-OECD Regions”. Field research in Argentina and Venezuela was conducted by Karsten Bechle, in the Philippines and Indonesia by Nina Korte and in Kenya and Zambia by Christian von Soest. Cf. also von Soest et al. (2011).
For a detailed analysis of Indonesia’s income structure and governance mechanisms cf. Korte (2011).
In August 2011, the KACC was disbanded and replaced by the “Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission”. Its new head was only appointed in May 2012 (Reuters 2012).
This finding would still contrast Rock’s (2009) result that a positive corruption effect on average is visible 10–12 years after a democratic transition.
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This articles draws on results from the research project “Persistence and Change of Neopatrimonialism in Various Non-OECD Regions”, which was conducted from 2008 to 2011 at the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies and was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Further collaborators in the project were Nina Korte and Karsten Bechle, who also conducted field research in Indonesia and the Philippines (Nina Korte) and Venezuela and Argentina (Karsten Bechle). The author also thanks Bert Hoffmann for helpful advice.
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von Soest, C. Persistent systemic corruption: why democratisation and economic liberalisation have failed to undo an old evil. Z Vgl Polit Wiss 7, 57–87 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12286-013-0157-6