Survey Shows Corruption Has Its Origins in System, Not Individuals

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One of the authors of the study, Dario Čepo of the Zagreb Law School Department of Sociology and member of the GONG nongovernmental organization’s council, said while presenting the survey last Monday that its authors focused on legal and political institutions to show that even if the best of persons finds employment in such a system, they cannot be immune to corruption if they want to advance and function within the system.

The study is based on ten in-depth interviews with experts on the corruption of a large portion. It believes that corruption is not so much about bribery and emphasizes gaining influence and power, which Čepo described as an invisible aspect of destructive corruption practices.

“When we asked them about the perception of corruption, they insisted that citizens recognize the existence of corruption but that they slightly exaggerate its presence,” he said, noting that it was interesting to hear where such perception of corruption originates from.

Almost all experts mentioned media as an important source of information on corruption practices. Most of them said that citizens do not have direct experience of corruption and that their perception has to do with other sources, so they are not sure if such things happen but are generally mistrustful and attribute anything they do not understand to corruption practices.

An important element in corruption perception is citizens’ great expectations from EU entry before Croatia was subjected to a carrot and stick approach. Their disappointment after accession in 2013, when the system of punishment and reward fell apart. This was due to independent institutions established as a condition for integration with the EU, being marginalized or captured by the ruling parties installing their members to lead them.

In their conclusions, the authors of the publication give several proposals for a turnaround, such as the introduction of civic education in schools, to educate young people in the long-term that they are subjects and not objects of the political system, strengthening civil society, and improving the status of independent media.

Čepo concludes that cultural legacy is not the cause but rather a consequence of corruption incited by state institutions such as the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor, the State Judicial Council, and political parties that were established and are run in such a way that a person cannot be but corrupt.

“The neuralgic points identified in the interviews are political parties which at the local and national level encourage the capturing of those institutions and which weaken them, followed by the judiciary, primarily the State Judicial Council which does not penalize weaknesses and encourages the system to continue operating in a corrupt way,” says Čepo.

He concluded by saying that the media are the positive actor, uncovering corruption cases and thus keeping the state institutions uneasy and that a large part of the solution to the problem of corruption is a new law on political parties.

Journalist Đurđica Klancir, who conducted the interviews, said that most of the interviewed experts were agreed that the problem started in the early 1990s and that they were frustrated that governments had changed for 30 years without any of them getting to grips with this problem.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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