Hungary Hits ‘Serious’ Corruption High in ‘Global Democracy Crisis’

Political rights in Hungary are at their lowest ebb since the fall of communism in 1989, according to a global corruption index released Tuesday by the watchdog Transparency International.

While many Europe countries score among the world’s healthiest democracies, Hungary has slid down to 46th place on TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2018.

This is cause for concern says Carl Dolan, director of Transparency International EU , who warns that Hungary is now considered to be a flawed democracy with a “serious” level of corruption.

“It’s no coincidence that this decline is happening at the same time as the ascendency of the (right-wing nationalist) Fidesz Party ,” he told RFI. “There has been a clearly calculated and deliberate attempt by the party to dismantle checks and balances within Hungary that would act as a stop on strong executive power.”

Hungary has been sliding toward authoritarianism since Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s victory in 2010. Since then, he and his Fidesz Party have won three consecutive mandates. Dolan says the judiciary is being increasingly politicized.

“Independent courts have been stacked with favourites or cronies of the party. The chief prosecutor is a close associate of Orban. We’ve had a series of clampdowns on civil society and independent media. Most recently, last year, there was a proposal for a new system of administrative courts that would report directly to the Ministry of Justice, political appointees, and ironically those administrative courts would try corruption cases.”

The CPI rates 180 nations according to their perceived level of public sector corruption. Scores are out of 100. The higher the score, the healthier the democracy. Denmark again came out on top, followed by New Zealand – while Somalia, South Sudan and Syria are seen as the world’s most corrupt countries.

Other results show 14 of the world’s strongest democracies are in Europe, although Greece and Bulgaria join Hungary as European nations increasingly gripped by corruption.

The central message from Transparency International this year is that the ongoing failure of most countries to control corruption in a meaningful way is contributing to “a crisis of democracy” around the world.


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