Germany receives the worst corruption index score since 2014
Transparency International has just released its annual World Corruption Index, granting Germany the worst score in almost 10 years. But what has happened over the past decade in politics for Germany’s perceived corruption to rise?
Germany awarded 10th place in international corruption index
“In the past 10 years, Germany has not made progress with the fight against corruption," Margarete Bause, a representative of Transparency International, told Süddesutsche Zeitung when the NGO’s index was published on Tuesday.
The annual index assesses 180 countries, using surveys to measure perceived corruption in politics and administration. The higher the score, from one to 100, the less corrupt a country is deemed to be.
Denmark, Finland and New Zealand topped this year's ranking, with Denmark being awarded a squeaky-clean rating of 90 points, while both Finland and New Zealand received 87. Norway, Singapore and Sweden followed, where minimal political dirty laundry granted them respective 84, 83 and 83-point rankings.
In order of appearance, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany completed the top 10 least corrupt countries according to Transparency International. Perceived corruption in Switzerland has seen quite a dramatic drop since 2020, and the same goes for Luxembourg. In the Netherlands and Germany, ratings have been more consistent over the past 10 years. Nevertheless, Germany’s 79 points returned the federal republic to 2014 levels of perceived corruption.
Somalia, Syria and South Sudan were ranked by Transparency International as the three countries where corruption is perceived to be most prevalent in politics and administration.
Why do people think Germany is corrupt?
So what has actually been going on in Germany for the survey respondents to perceive that the country’s politicians and administrative workers may be guilty of nefarious behaviour? “Scandals like the mask affair or CumEx have weakened trust in the integrity of politics and economics, “ Bause told Süddesutsche Zeitung.
Bause is referring to two scandals that have rocked German politics in recent years. During the wave of coronavirus in the winter of 2021, two CDU politicians were accused of accepting a 650.000-euro bribe from mask production companies in exchange for political lobbying. Both politicians resigned shortly after German police began investigations against them, but were found not guilty by a judge in Munich. Despite the verdict, Bause believes the so-called Maskenaffäre (mask affair) could have contributed to further doubts about shaky morals in German politics.
Equally implicating for German politicians and financiers is the CumEx scandal, an ongoing investigation by European media platforms into tax fraud across eight northern European countries. Germany’s investigative journalism organisation Correctiv suggests that banks, stock traders and lawyers fraudulently withdrew an estimated 36 billion euros from the German treasury. The money was then used in financial trades where multiple traders were reimbursed for tax money which was only paid once.
Russian actors in German corruption
On the international stage, Transparency International argues that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine can be used as a good example of the long-term impact of corruption in Germany. “Over years Russia built up a network of influence at federal and state level with the aid of massive financial resources,” Alexandra Herzog, another Transparency International representative, told Süddesutsche Zeitung.
“Examples include lucrative positions for former chancellor Gerhard Schröder, support for AFD politicians, and funding for the government-owned Climate and Environmental Protection Foundation and disinformation campaigns. This is exactly why Russia can succeed in influencing political decisions, for example in energy policy, and strengthen its geostrategic position,” Herzog concluded.
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