Democracy's shortcomings in anti-corruption
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Original versionBergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI Working Paper WP 2012:10)
Citizens of countries with a corrupt political leadership are trapped in a situation, typically characterized by increasing income differences, human rights violations, dysfunctional democracy, limited press freedom, weak access to basic services, such as health and utilities, and it is difficult for them to move to another country to get a better life. Despite Arab Spring experiences, confronting a government with monopoly on power within its jurisdiction often fall short, and citizens’ success in their efforts to replace an illegitimate government relies on some form of international support. This paper reviews some of the reasons why we see shortcomings in this support. The international anti-corruption initiatives far too often fail to reach the political elite. New laws that could have made it difficult to hide stolen money abroad are not enforced. Pro-democracy initiatives are important, yet not efficient enough for getting rid of corrupt politicians. International pressure for legal reform does not bring change unless the laws are enforced. ‘Other governments’ often fail the citizens in these countries. Instead, they keep a good dialogue with the incumbent in order to improve their chances to get access to resources, secure profitable contracts for ‘their’ firms, or because of military strategies. Narrow interests and competition between countries distort the process towards a world free from political corruption.