Political Corruption: Encyclopedia - Political Corruption Political Corruption

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Political corruption: Encyclopedia - Political corruption Political corruption In broad terms, political corruption is the misuse of public (governmental) power for illegitimate, usually secret, private advantage. All forms of government are susceptible to political corruption. Forms of corruption vary, but the most common are patronage, bribery, extortion, influence peddling, fraud, embezzlement, and nepotism. While corruption often facilitates criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, mone
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  Political corruption: Encyclopedia - PoliticalcorruptionPolitical corruption In broad terms, political corruption is the misuse of public (governmental) power for illegitimate, usually secret, private advantage.All forms of government are susceptible to political corruption. Forms of corruption vary, but themost common are patronage, bribery, extortion, influence peddling, fraud, embezzlement, andnepotism. While corruption often facilitates criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, moneylaundering, and criminal prostitution, it is not restricted to these organized crime activities, and itdoes not always support or shield other crimes.What constitutes corruption differs depending on the country or jurisdiction. Certain political funding practices that are legal in one place may be illegal in another. In some countries, policeand prosecutors have broad discretion over who to arrest and charge, and the line betweendiscretion and corruption can be difficult to draw, as in racial profiling. In countries with stronginterest group politics, practices that could easily constitute corruption elsewhere are sometimessanctified as official group preferences. Political corruption - Negative effects Political corruption - Effects on politics administration and institutions Corruption poses a serious development challenge. In the political realm, it underminesdemocracy and good governance by flouting or even subverting formal processes. Corruption inelections and in legislative bodies reduces accountability and distorts representation in policymaking; corruption in the judiciary compromises the rule of law; and corruption in public administration results in the unfair provision of services. More generally, corruption erodes theinstitutional capacity of government as procedures are disregarded, resources are siphoned off,and public offices are bought and sold. At the same time, corruption undermines the legitimacyof government and such democratic values as trust and tolerance. See also: Good governance Political corruption - Economic effects Corruption also undermines economic development by generating considerable distortions andinefficiency. In the private sector, corruption increases the cost of  business through the price of illicit payments themselves, the management cost of negotiating with officials, and the risk of  breached agreements or detection. Although some claim corruption reduces costs by cutting redtape, the availability of bribes can also induce officials to contrive new rules and delays. Where  corruption inflates the cost of business, it also distorts the playing field, shielding firms withconnections from competition and thereby sustaining inefficient firms.Corruption also generates economic distortions in the public sector by diverting public investmentinto capital projects where bribes and kickbacks are more plentiful. Officials may increase thetechnical complexity of public sector projects to conceal or pave way for such dealings, thusfurther distorting investment. Corruption also lowers compliance with construction,environmental, or other regulations, reduces the quality of  government services and infrastructure,and increases budgetary pressures on government.Economists argue that one of the factors behind the differing economic development in Africaand Asia is that in the former, corruption has primarily taken the form of rent extraction with theresulting financial capital moved overseas rather invested at home (hence the stereotypical, butsadly often accurate, image of African dictators having Swiss bank accounts). Corruptadministrations in Asia like Suharto's have often taken a cut on everything (requiring bribes), butotherwise provided more of the conditions for development, through infrastructure  investment , law and order, etc. University of Massachusetts researchers estimated that from 1970 to 1996,capital flight from 30 sub-Saharan countries totalled $187bn, exceeding those nations' externaldebts.[1] (The results, expressed in retarded or suppressed development, have been modelled intheory by economist Mancur Olson.) In the case of Africa, one of the factors for this behaviour was political instability, and the fact that new governments often confiscated previousgovernment's corruptly-obtained assets. This encouraged officials to stash their  wealth abroad, outof reach of any future expropriation.Cronyism and crony capitalism, Bribery, Nepotism, Rent seeking, Lobbying without publicscrutiny Political corruption - Types of abuse Political corruption - Bribery: Bribe-takers and bribe-givers It takes two to create corruption: giving and taking bribes. In some countries the culture of corruption extends to every aspect of public  life , making it extremely difficult to stay in businesswithout resorting to bribes. Political corruption - Graft Graft is the act of a politician personally benefitting from public funds in a way other than prescribed by law. Graft is comparable to insider trading in business. New York's Senator George Washington Plunkitt once famously claimed that there was a difference between honest and dishonest graft. The classical example of graft is a politician  using his knowledgeof zoning and decision making to purchase land which he knows his political organization isinterested in developing on, and then selling it at a significant profit to that organization. Largegifts from parties within the government also qualify as graft, and most countries have lawsagainst it. (For example, any gift over $200 value made to the President of the United States is  considered to be a gift to the Office of the Presidency and not to the President himself. Theoutgoing President must buy it if he wants to take it with him.) Political corruption - Campaign contributions and soft money In the political arena, it is difficult to prove corruption, but impossible to prove its absence. For this reason, there are often rumors about many politicians.Politicians are placed in apparently compromising positions because of their need to solicit financial contributions for their campaigns. Often, they then appear to be acting in the interests of those parties that fund them, giving rise to talk of political corruption.Supporters of politicians assert that it is entirely coincidental that many politicians appear to beacting in the interests of those who fund them. Cynics wonder why these organizations fund politicians at all, if they get nothing for their money. It should be noted that in the United States,firms, especially large ones, often fund both the Democratic and Republican parties, though mostof them favor one party over the other.Because of the implications of  corporations funding politicians, such as the perceived threat thatthese corporations are simply buying the votes of elected officials, certain countries, such asFrance, ban altogether the corporate funding of political parties. Because of the possiblecircumvention of this ban with respect to the funding of political campaigns, France also imposesmaximum spending caps on campaigning; candidates that have exceeded those limits, or thathave handed misleading accounting reports, risk having their candidacy ruled invalid, or even be prevented from running in future elections. In addition, the government funds political partiesaccording to their successes in elections. In some countries, political parties are run solely off subscriptions (membership fees).Even legal measures such as these have been argued to be legalised corruption, in that they oftenfavor the political status quo. Minor parties and independents often argue that efforts to rein inthe influence of contributions do little more than protect the major parties with guaranteed publicfunding while constraining the possibility of private funding by outsiders. In these instances,officials are legally taking money from the public coffers for their election campaigns toguarantee that they will continue to hold their well-paid and influenctial positions. Political corruption - Conditions favorable for corruption ã Adverse governance structures o Concentration of power in decision makers who are not practically accountable tothe people. o Democracy absent or dysfunctional. See illiberal democracy. ã Information deficits o Lack of government transparency (Freedom of information) in decision making.  o Contempt for or negligence of exercising freedom of speech or freedom of the press. ã Opportunities and incentives o Large investments of public capital. o Poorly-paid government officials . ã Social conditions o Self-interested closed cliques and old-boy networks. o Illiterate, apathetic or ignorant populace, with inadequate public discernment of  political choices. See bounded rationality and rational ignorance. ã Deficits of law o Weak rule of law. o Weak legal profession. ã Imperfect electoral processes o Costly political campaigns, with expenses exceeding normal sources of politicalfunding. o Absence of adequate controls to prevent bribery or campaign donations . Political corruption - Measuring corruption Measuring corruption - in the statistical sense, to compare countries - is naturally not a straight-forward matter, since the participants are generally unforthcoming in regards to it. TransparencyInternational, the leading anti-corruption NGO, provides three measures, updated annually: aCorruption Perceptions Index (based on experts' opinions of how corrupt different countries are);a Global Corruption Barometer (based on a survey of general public attitudes toward andexperience of corruption); and a Bribe Payers Survey, looking at the willingness of foreign firmsto pay bribes. Transparency International also publishes the Global Corruption Report. TheWorld Bank collects a range of data on corruption, including a set of Governance Indicators.The Transparency International has held perception surveys from time to time. The 10 leastcorrupt countries, according to one held in 2005, are (in alphabetical order): Australia, Austria, Denmark , Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, and SwitzerlandAccording to the same survey, the 9 most corrupt countries are (in alphabetical order): Angola,Bangladesh, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Myanmar, Nigeria, and TurkmenistanHowever, the value of that survey is disputed, as it is based on subjective perceptions.Sophistication of  technology  may be available to those countries considered by the public as leastcorrupt to conceal corruption beyond public purview or disguise it as legitimate dealings.Within the United States Mississippi, North Dakota and Louisiana are the top three corruptstates. New Hampshire, Oregon and Nebraska have the least amount of corruption. The largeststates, California and Texas, are ranked in the middle, California ranking 25th and Texas in 29th. Nebraska, which is listed last on the corruption rank is only .52 and thats out of 100,000 people.
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