Why do some countries manage to control corruption while others continue to struggle? What can be learned from those countries that are successful in controlling corruption? ANTICORRP researchers presented research on this subject in a panel chaired by Larry Diamond of Stanford University and Marc F. Plattner of Journal of Democracy. Michael Johnston of Colgate University served as discussant.
Professor Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, chair of the ANTICORRP policy pillar presented research advocated for a holistic model to explain how contemporary “high achievers” in anti-corruption successfully implemented reform. A holistic model, she writes, must take into account these factors as well as constraints upon them (including a free press, an independent judiciary, societal norms, and a robust civil society). Using this model to analyze the political economy of seven “high-achieving” countries (Botswana, Chile, Estonia, Georgia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Uruguay), Mungiu-Pippidi finds great variation in how constraints eventually came to outweigh opportunities–but notes that in all cases, a great shift in the equilibrium between these factors was required.
Professor Bruce M. Wilson, an expert on Central American politics, presented research on Costa Rica in his paper which argues that despite economic successes and a long-standing democracy, corruption, has shaken citizen confidence in public officials. Cases of corruption which may have previously slipped under the radar are now widely publicized and prosecuted. Some worry that corrupt activities from international drug cartels could overwhelm the capacity of the state to control it.
Dr. Daniel Buquet and Dr. Rafael Piñeiro, both Uruguayan scholars presented the case from their country, Uruguay. The country has dramatically improved its levels of universalism, moving closer to an open access regime. The authors argue that the change in the way parties compete for votes – whereas parties may have previously garnered votes through connections and informal networks, they moved toward a system of presenting their platforms and using ideas to objectively woo voters. The authors also note the positive impact of a new party committed to a different style of attracting voters which experienced success as well as the positive change in how citizens accessed public services.
Korean scholar Dr. Jong-Sung You presented the case of South Korea where he highlighted the role of land reform in opening access to economic opportunities and state monopoly on violence, both of which were crucial to economic and political development. Land reforms also contributed to expanding education and to meritocratic and autonomous bureaucracy.
A report of the panel was published by the National Endowment for Democracy.