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Global Corruption 'Worsening,' But Citizens Prepared To Act

Much of the corruption reported was in the form of paying bribes, which more than a quarter of worldwide respondents said they had done in the past year.
The world’s largest public-opinion survey on corruption shows that more than half of respondents believe graft has worsened in their country in the past two years.

But the survey, conducted by Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International, also says nearly 90 percent of respondents expressed an eagerness to act against corruption, from signing petitions to taking part in protests.

The "2013 Global Corruption Barometer" was based on interviews with 114,000 people in 107 countries.

Just over half of respondents, 53 percent, said they felt graft had worsened in the past two years. That includes the majority of people surveyed in countries ranging from Brazil to Russia, Pakistan to the United States, and Turkey to Ukraine.

Much of the corruption reported was in the form of paying bribes, which more than a quarter of worldwide respondents said they had done in the past year.

Transparency International described both the payment of bribes and the failure to do so as having potentially "life-changing consequences" for millions of people.

From Sierra Leone To...Georgia?

The tiny West African nation of Sierra Leone had one the highest rates, as more than 75 percent of respondents reported paying a bribe.

More than 40 percent of respondents in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan reported bribe-paying, as well as more than 30 percent in Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Ukraine.

More than 20 percent reported bribe-paying in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, and Moldova.

Canada, Japan, and Norway were among the countries in which less than 5 percent of respondents reported paying bribes. One post-Soviet country, Georgia, was in that select group as well.

"This is because the Georgian government has undertaken comprehensive and rigorous reforms to fix the police, the traffic-police force, and education administration. They also have undertaken a huge reform of public and civil registries," says Svetlana Savitskaya, program coordinator for CIS countries at Transparency International.

"The number of required business licenses and permission were significantly reduced. This all adds up. We actually say that there is almost no petty bribery [there]."

Willing To Fight Corruption

But corruption goes well beyond bribery.

In Greece, Russia, Ukraine, and other countries, 80 percent of people surveyed felt the government is either largely on entirely run by a few big entities acting in their own self-interest.

Political parties were considered the most corrupt institution in the greatest number of countries surveyed, from the United Kingdom to Iraq to Bosnia.

Next in line was the judiciary, considered the most corrupt institution in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Azerbaijan to Kyrgyzstan.

But for the prevalence of corruption, Transparency International also cited a large majority of people expressing the will to take action in response.

Nearly 90 percent of global respondents said they were ready to fight graft, from signing petitions to protesting to spreading the word through social media.

The only country surveyed in which less than half of respondents said they would be prepared to do anything was Armenia. Less than one-third of people in the Caucasian state said they would even be willing to sign a petition, in stark contrast to countries like Kosovo, where more than 90 percent of people said they would.

The most common reason given by the Armenian public was the belief that taking action is futile.

"There is a lack of true political will on the side of authorities," Transparency's Savitskaya says. "Because the Armenian government hasn't gone beyond just statements during the last decade, let's say, this all adds up to apathy. That's why we have very striking figures of citizens saying that they don't believe it will make any difference if they start fighting corruption."

Most of the public in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine also said they would not report corruption, and most offered the same reason.