Transparency in politics can lead to greater corruption

October 11th, 2008 - 1:37 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 11 (IANS) Greater transparency might not always lead to less corruption, according to a doctoral thesis that investigates why graft among the political elite was more extensive in Argentina than in Chile during the nineties. Viviana Stechina from Uppsala University, Sweden, comparing the two countries, focuses on the rules of the game of politics and on the actions of the political elite in situations that offer many incentives and opportunities for corruption.

“Thanks to the extensive coverage by the press, the public in Argentina had greater access to information about political decisions and actions than in Chile, but this did not prevent the occurrence of corruption and abuses of power,” she said.

“Instead, media reports increased the public awareness not only of the extent of corruption but also of the impunity that politicians enjoyed. In the short run, this probably increased the incentives for corruption. In the long run, on the other hand, there have been advantages with greater transparency,” said Stechina.

Through detailed examination of several privatisation processes in the two countries, she identifies the institutional circumstances that heighten or reduce the risk of elite corruption, according to an Uppsala University release.

She concentrates on four institutional aspects that corruption experts often put forward as relevant to understand the occurrence of corruption: the extent of intrastate accountability, the extent of transparency in policy-making, and the respective degrees of concentration of power and discretion among decision-makers.

The dissertation shows that political institutions play a major role in terms of how vulnerable the two countries are to corruption.

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