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Political Corruption Essay

2375 words - 10 pages

Political corruption is a serious problem limiting development in emerging economies. Many scholars have identified corruption as the new enemy of democratization, blaming it for limiting political and socio-economic development of most developing nations (Bardhan P.,1997; Seligson M., 2002, Canache D. and Allison M., 2005). Although no one can really measure “corruption” due to its discrete nature and the different discourses defining it, citizen’s perception of corruption can give us an idea of its direction. Manny current approaches to the study of corruption take into consideration the importance of corruption perception indexes (Johnston 2005, Acemoglu D. and Robinson J. 2001, Canache D. and Allison M., 2005), and the availability of democratic channels such as regular popular elections, freedom of the press, civic society organizations, private property rights and individual rights (O’Donell G, 1994). Corruption index reports such as Transparency International, LatinoBarometro, Freedom House) show extensive public awareness of mass corruption in developing countries (TI, 2011; LB 2009; FH 2010). Awareness of corruption does not seem to trigger any major demands to fight corruption seriously. The question leading this literature review is why citizens, after accurately perceiving corruption and perceiving it as wrong, fail to adjust their opinions of, or simply ignore, the leaders or democratic institutions that govern them?

The question of public tolerance of political corruption has assessed from different approaches. Some scholars, for instance, focus on the direct link between citizens and organization/leaders based on clientelism, nepotism, cronyism, and other informal ways of wealth redistribution (Kurer, O. 1993, Rose –Ackerman 1999 p. 11). Other works approach the problem of tolerance from cultural, religion and even legal system perspectives (.C. C. E. Chang and Chu Y 2006; Johnston M. 1983). These works, nonetheless, show no clear differentiation between tolerance and acceptance. For the purpose of this literature review, however, public tolerance of corruption will solely refer to the civil society’s judgment of endurance of corruption as illegitimate. The argument explored in this literature is that the origins of public tolerance of corruption in Latin American can be linked to regime change oscillations in their recent political history. These fluctuations in their political transition processes had important effects on how citizens defined their relationship with democratic institutions, and ultimately with the institutional channels and paths that allow them to hold their leaders/public officials accountable for their actions. Finally, consideration is given to other potential socio-economic factors that might help perpetuate the status quo of public tolerance of corruption.

There exists a great scholarly consensus about the factors leading to the building of strong democratic accountability institutions. Many...

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