US, other leading powers flag in fight against corruption
BERLIN (AP) — The U.S. and several other leading industrial powers are struggling to keep up the momentum in the fight against corruption, according to a report Thursday that urged governments to address problems with political party financing.
Watchdog group Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index measures perceived public-sector corruption in 180 nations. It uses a scale on which 100 is very clean and zero is very corrupt.
The United States' score of 69 was two points lower than a year earlier and its worst score for eight years, Transparency International said. The U.S. was ranked 23rd, a one-place drop from last year.
The report cited challenges including “threats to its system of checks and balances” and “the ever-increasing influence of special interests in government.” It also noted the launching of impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump.
Denmark, last year's top performer, was joined in a tie for first place this time by New Zealand. Both had 87 points. They were followed closely by Finland. Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland tied for fourth. Norway, the Netherlands, and Germany and Luxembourg — tied for ninth — completed the top 10.
Canada lost four points to 77, placing 12th. It tied with Britain, which lost three points — as did France, which tied with the U.S. Of the other countries in the Group of Seven leading industrial powers, Germany and Japan, which ranked 20th, were static, while only Italy gained one point to 53, putting it in 51st place.
More than two-thirds of countries around the world scored below 50 and the average score was only 43, Transparency International said. It said countries that perform well on the index have stronger enforcement of campaign-finance regulations.
“Frustration with government corruption and lack of trust in institutions speaks to a need for greater political integrity,” said the group's head, Delia Ferreira Rubio. “Governments must urgently address the corrupting role of big money in political party financing and the undue influence it exerts on our political systems.”
The report also noted that “integrity at home does not always translate into integrity abroad, and multiple scandals in 2019 demonstrated that transnational corruption is often facilitated, enabled and perpetuated by seemingly clean Nordic countries.”
Notable gains were made this year by Armenia and Angola, which each gained seven points — to 42 (77th place) and 26 (146th) respectively. Bottom place again went to Somalia, with just nine points. South Sudan, Syria and Yemen finished above it, behind a group of countries sharing 173rd place that included Afghanistan and Venezuela.