GAB is pleased to welcome back Professor Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, chair of the European Research Centre for Anticorruption and State-Building at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Her many publications include the Cambridge University Press volume A Quest for Good Governance: How Societies Build Control of Corruption and most recently “Romania’s Italian-Style Anticorruption Populism,” in the July 2018 issue of the Journal of Democracy.
Do Europeans care about corruption? If the results of the May election to the European Parliament are any guide, they do. Turnout to fill its 751 seats was the highest since the first election in 1979, and polling data shows corruption was a top concern of many voters. A YouGov poll found corruption and migration were what troubled voters the most, and earlier research had shown that respondents’ perceptions of how member governments handled corruption to be a good predictor of their trust of both national-level and European-wide institutions. Party leaders apparently believed these polls. The heads of the major ones all issued pre-election statements denouncing corruption and backing open government (a surprise given their foot-dragging on a parliamentary ethics code and reluctance to commit to greater transparency in the operation of the parliament itself).
Can Brussels solve what voters believe is the problem of corruption in Europe? This very large question can be unpacked into three more manageable ones:
Is Europe in fact as corrupt as Europeans think it is? Are their perceptions of corruption matched by reality?
Do the results of the May elections indeed reflect a demand for stronger anticorruption policies and better governance?
If Europeans are indeed demanding better governed, less corrupt polities, can the EU’s limited anticorruption instruments satisfy the voters demand? Continue reading