Blog Posts February 22, 2018 0

The Netherlands & The Corruption Perception Index: We do better at the Winter Olympics!

Transparency International published its yearly Corruption Perception Index 2017. TI states that ‘the majority of countries are making little or no progress in ending corruption, while further analysis shows journalists and activists in corrupt countries risking their lives every day in an effort to speak out’. Hats off to journalists, but not a very good development.

As a Dutchman I am particularly interested in how The Netherlands has performed. Yes, I do care about the Olympic Wintergames Medal Table (we are in fifth place, not bad!), but I think our score in the TI list is even more important. So, where are we? In shared 8th place with 82 points. New Zealand leads with 89 points. To be honest: I am disappointed. Why do we not score as well as Switzerland (85) or Singapore (84)? We did it on the Freedom House Freedom in the World Index with a score of 99 out of 100!

Getting deeper into the underlying data I see that the index is a result of eight separate parameters. (I also see that statistically, taking into account the margins of error, we could still be #1, but I leave that aside). What stands out is low score of 77/100 on the Bertelsmann Sustainable Governance Index. That brings down our average substantially.

Digging deeper into that BSG Index, I find that this scores our country on three themes: Policy Performance, Democracy and Governance. We do well on Democracy with 7.52, but we lose it on the other two. On the Policy Performance theme the element of Environmental Policies stands out negatively with a 5.8 score. On the Governance theme the element of Executive Capacity stands out negatively with a 6.1 score, just as the element of Executive Accountability with 6.4. I was shocked by a very low score of 4.8 on Newspaper Circulation and of 4.0 on Intra-party democracy.

So, back to the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. Being in shared 8th place out of 180 (Somalia is at the bottom position) may not be something to be ashamed of. But in a list like this I would not go for anything less than top 3. Freedom of expression is my personal #1 human right, just as corruption is on the top of my what-to-fight-against list. Corruption kills trust in public institutions and its servants, undermines (belief in) the rule of law and makes people feel deeply unsafe. We in The Netherlands have work to do on the sustainability of our policies, on facilitating a healthy newspaper industry and on strengthening democracy within our political parties. Then our ranking on the BSG Index goes up, and our score on the TI Corruption Perceptions Index will follow. Let’s ask our Olympic ice skaters and their coaches to help develop a four year plan!


Robert Zaal

Director PeaceTechLab NL

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