Corruption climate in the Central and Eastern European countries


The majority of people living in the Central and Eastern European countries do not think that corruption is normal part of life in their society, however, almost a third of the population admitted giving bribes before

Characteristic of the project

In June, July and August this year GfK Praha - Institute for market research carried out a sociological survey on corruption climate in 11 Central and Eastern European countries (in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine). The survey was carried out by means of in person, face to face interviewing in households. In the region of Central and Eastern Europe a total of 12,454 people were interviewed. In all these countries about a thousand of respondents were interviewed with an exception of Russia, where the number of interviews was more than a double. In all countries tested the sample was recruited to represent the population of the country concerned.

Main Research Findings

The level of corruption in the Central and East European region is usually estimated as moderate to very high, which casts an unfavourable light on the countries of this region linking them to the position of the developing countries in Africa, Asia or South America. The above estimate is usually underpinned by the data from the index of corruption perception (CPI) annually published by the international organisation Transparency International. The research project GfK does not say this estimate is generally untrue, but underlines that most people living in the Central and East Europe region do not think that corruption is normal part of our society life and stick to the principle 'never give bribes'. Obviously, this significantly changes the image of this region.

It became clear that the reputation of a country in terms of corruption cannot be assessed only by the behaviour of politicians, clerks or business community - it is as important to see to what extent is an ordinary man involved in corruption transactions and what is his answer to the question "To give or not to give a bribe?".

In this respect, there exist major variances between the countries of this region. Corruption most affects everyday life of people in Slovakia. Almost half of the Slovak population feel that the problem of corruption is absolutely pressing, corruption is quite necessary to be able to manage your life - 48 % of respondents in this country answer that bribes are natural part of life in their country and who wants to live, must give. It is a figure highly exceeding the average in the whole of the region and Slovakia thus in perceiving corruption as absolutely necessary for people to be able to live a normal life takes a really exceptional position in the region. Surprisingly, among the countries, where this aspect is perceived as very high you can find the Czech Republic and Hungary as well. A quarter of the population in these countries perceives corruption as absolutely essential in life. This finding disagrees with the established stereotype saying: "The farther the East, the more essential to give bribes". On the other hand, the data on the lowest level of corruption necessity supports this stereotype - it reveals that those least feeling the necessity to give bribes are people in Austria and Slovenia, where only 7 % of respondents think it is necessary to give bribes to be able to lead a normal life.

Corrupt institutions of the public administration is one of the major obstacles in the way of post-communist countries to building effective democracy and free market economy. This information is generally known to the EU agencies as well as to the population of the Central and Eastern Europe region. People living in the individual countries of the region are extremely critical of the problem of corruption in the state administration. Most of them believe that they live in a corrupt state and that their government does not want to do anything about it.


Graph 1

Unwillingness and incompetence of the government of the individual countries to cope with the problem of corrupt institutions creates a situation when corruption paradoxically helps manage lack of functionality of state organisations. Feelings of nostalgia "of the good, old days" are more and more intense, people idealise socialism as a regime more successful in fighting corruption than the one we have today.

If the people living in the Central and Eastern European countries tell us that they do not give bribes, how come they live in corrupt states? The answer is very simple, it is not enough to passively resist corruption, but it is necessary to actively fight against it. The passive corruption immunity of most people does not guarantee that the remaining minority would not make the state corrupt. However, the active resistance of individuals to corruption around them is pitifully low in the whole of the region.

The majority of the population living in the region do not perceive themselves as part of public control over adhering to generally accepted rules of state institutions functioning, and, speaking about a possible corruption behaviour of clerks and politicians are more likely to take an attitude of passive observer than active initiator of their punishment. Obviously, the percentage of those determined to collectively fight against corruption is different between the individual countries. The greatest mobilisation potential of anti corruption collective resistance exists in Romania and in Croatia, where the share of the respondents willing to demonstrate to support the fight against corruption comes close to two thirds of all respondents. Conversely, those least willing to get mobilised in the fight against corruption are the respondents from Austria, Ukraine and Poland.


Graph 2

Enclosure: Tables

Tab. 1
BRIBES ARE QUITE NATURAL PART OF LlFE, WHO WANTS TO LlVE, MUST GIVE
1. Slovakia 48%
2. Ukraine 36%
3. Czech Republic 25%
4. Romania 24%
5. Hungary24%
6. Russia 23%
7. Croatia 18%
8. Poland 17%
9. Bulgaria 17%
10. Slovenia 7%
11. Austria 7%
*Source: GfK Praha, 2001, N = 12,454. Line %.

Tab.2
Your person and bribery...
Line %.you never give bribes
1. Austria 82%
2. Croatia 75%
3. Bulgaria 73%
4. Poland 66%
5. Czech Republic 65%
6. Russia 63%
7. Hungary 51%
8. Ukraine 43%
9. Slovakia 40%
10. Romania40%
*Source: GfK Praha, 2001 , N = 12,454. Line %
The data on Slovenia is not available.

Tab.3
THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT HAS NO REAL INTEREST IN PUNISHING CORRUPTION
I totaly/fairly agree
1. Slovakia 80%
2. Ukraine 73%
3. Croatia 67%
4. Russia 62%
5. Slovenia 59%
6. Czech Republic 58%
7. Bulgaria 55%
8. Romania 55%
9. Hungary 52%
10. Austria 39%
11. Poland 37%
*Source: GfK Praha, 2001, N = 12,454. Line %.

Tab. 4
THERE DID NOT USE TO BE SO MUCH CORRUPTION UNDER SOCIALlSM
I totally/fairly agree
1. Slovakia 63%
2. Romania 61%
3. Croatia 53%
4. Russia 52%
5. Ukraine 49%
6. Bulgaria 49%
7. Hungary 49%
8. Slovenia 38%
9. Poland 36%
10. Czech Republic 34%
*Source: GfK Praha, 2001, N = 12,454. Line %.

Tab. 5
IMAGINE THAT BY ACCIDENT YOU WITNESS A SITUATION, WHEN A PRIVATE FIRM, OR INDIVIDUAL BRIBES A CIVIL SERVANT, OR A PUBLlC FIGURE, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
1. nothing, I would keep it to myself only 35%
2. I would discuss it with my relatives or closest friends 35%
3. I would anonymously notify the police of it 9%
4. I would notify the police of it and go to the court as a witness6%
5. do not know 13%
6. no answer 2%
*Source: GfK Praha, 2001, N = 12,454. Line %.

Tab.6
WOULD YOU PERSONALLY BE WILLlNG TO SUPPORT FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN OUR COUNTRY, E.G., BY YOUR PARTICIPATION IN A STREET DEMONSTRATION?
definitely/yes, rather
1. Romania 64
2. Croatia 62
3. Bulgaria 47
4. Slovakia 40
5. Slovenia 39
6. Russia 31
7. Czech Republic 30
8. Hungary 30
9. Poland 29
10. Ukraine 29
11. Austria 27
*Source: GfK Praha, 2001, N = 12,454. Line %.

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