in

Democracy was 2018’s biggest loser

corruption Malta
Protest in Malta to mark the one year anniversary of Daphne Caruana Galizia's assassination in October 2017. Photo: Pierre Ellul

Following something of a 2018 trend, Malta has registered a sharp decline in Transparency International’s globall corruption index, matching similar drops in other surveys regarding Quality of Life, and its second worst score ever in the global Democracy Index.

An increasing number of democratic institutions are under threat globally and with the vast majority of countries registering little progress the situation is becoming increasingly dire, according to statements from those involved in compiling the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). 

Malta decreased by six points over the last three years, moving from 60 in 2015 to 54 in 2018. The CPI states that Hungary and Malta have seen the sharpest decline in their respective CPI scores in recent years, allowing corruption to worsen.

“Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption,” said Patricia Moreira, Managing Director of Transparency International.

Democracy is not just about fair elections and a government being elected into power via a majority, nor is it about tens of thousands of people turning up at rallies to support their elected leader. It is about how that government then exercises that power.

This is where the world is falling flat – the capturing of state institutions, the silencing of the press, and the almost unanimous failure to make any form of progress against eradicating, or even reducing corruption.

The CPI has reflected an increase in the failures of the majority of the world’s nations to make any headway into combating corruption. Malta decreased by six points over the last three years, moving from 60 in 2015 to 54 in 2018. The CPI states that Hungary and Malta have seen the sharpest decline in their respective CPI scores in recent years, allowing corruption to worsen.

Malta is consistent in matching similar drops in other surveys regarding Quality of Life, and its second worst score ever in the global Democracy Index.

More than two thirds of countries scored below 50 on this year’s CPI, with a global average score of just 43 out of a possible 100. This means that the overwhelming majority of countries in this world cannot even tick half of the boxes that they need to in order to be considered as corruption-free.

But citizens around the world did not need this report to tell them what they already know – protests from Albania to Malta, America to Mongolia, and Romania to Guatemala have publicly expressed outrage at the systematic abuse of office by politicians.

Calls for accountability and an end to impunity go unheard, journalists are jailed or murdered, and those campaigning for change become the targets of government-sanctioned smear campaigns and abuse.

The research presented in the report establishes a clear and indisputable link between the prevalence of corruption in the public sector and the failing of that country’s democracy.

Malta now scores nearer to Azerbaijan than western democracies. Malta has more in common with a country known for its lack of civil liberties, systematic abuse of journalists, and its involvement in international money laundering scandals, than it does with western democracies such as Norway, Switzerland, and Sweden.

Dodgy land deals, the Panama Papers, Pilatus Bank and Sata Bank, cash-for-passports, the unsolved murder of an investigative journalist, harassment and cyber attacks on news portals, spurious SLAPP suits, money laundering, the facilitation of tax evasion, the capturing of the media – these sound like a list of crimes committed by a failed state, not a member of the EU.

Things are getting worse and instead of trying to improve the situation, both locally and abroad, we are becoming increasingly complicit in a global failing of democracy. The global corruption index by Transparency International is a stark warning to all.

Read more: Malta registers sharp decline in global corruption index

Malta registers sharp decline in global corruption index

Joseph Muscat

Pimping out the country