The latest Corruption Perceptions Index from Transparency International indicates the failure of most countries to control corruption, and the organization believes this is leading to a “crisis of democracy around the world.”
In the nonprofit’s 2018 ranking of corrupt countries, more than two-thirds scored below 50 out of a possible 100. The index reviews 13 surveys and expert assessments to gauge public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Berlin-based Transparency International has been compiling its index since 1995.
Denmark and New Zealand top the index with 88 and 87 points, respectively. There are 20 countries that score at a 20 or less, including Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria. Somalia is considered a haven for terrorists and pirates. South Sudan and Syria have been devastated by armed conflict in recent years, leading to human rights abuses and dysfunctional governments.
Among the nations registering a decline are Hungary and Turkey, which decreased by eight and nine points, respectively, over the last five years. Hungary recorded its lowest score for political rights since communism fell in 1989, reflecting the erosion of rule of law and democratic institutions. Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thwarted a coup d’etat in 2016, saw its ranking fall because of a crackdown on public demonstrations and independent media.
The United States lost four points from last year and posted a score of 71, dropping out of the top 20 for the first time since 2011. Transparency International said the score reflects a time when the U.S. is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of leadership.
The highest scoring region in the ranking is Western Europe and the European Union, with an average score of 66. The lowest scoring regions are sub-Saharan Africa, with an average score of 32, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with an average of 35.
Transparency International’s analysis of the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index incorporates data from the Democracy Index produced by The Economist Intelligence Unit, the Freedom in the World Index produced by Freedom House, and the Annual Democracy Report produced by Varieties of Democracy. The index draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The population figures come from World Bank’s 2017 population estimates.