The rise of populist politicians around the world risks undermining the fight against corruption, an anti-graft watchdog said Wednesday
“Populism is the wrong medicine,” Transparency International said as it released its closely watched annual Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks nations according to their perceived level of public sector corruption.
“In countries with populist or autocratic leaders, we often see democracies in decline and a disturbing pattern of attempts to crack down on civil society, limit press freedom, and weaken the independence of the judiciary,” said TI chair Jose Ugaz.
“Instead of tackling crony capitalism, those leaders usually install even worse forms of corrupt systems,” he said in a statement.
The Berlin-based group said in its statement that “deep-rooted” reforms were needed worldwide to tackle the inequality and systemic corruption that have proved such “fertile ground” for populists.
For its 2016 index, the watchdog ranked 176 countries on a scale of 0-100, where zero means very corrupt and 100 signifies very clean.
The data is based on surveys from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Economist Intelligence unit and other bodies.
New Zealand and Denmark shared the number one spot with a score of 90 points, with Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway rounding out the top five of squeaky-clean nations.
Strife-torn Somalia was the worst offender in the list for a 10th year running, followed by South Sudan, North Korea and Syria.
Qatar suffered the biggest fall, with a score 10 points lower than last year’s, which TI put down to the corruption claims dogging the country’s 2022 FIFA World Cup bid.