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Corruption °C. Report on Corruption and Anticorruption Policy in Latvia. 2008. Second semiannum

Year: 2009
Editor: Valts Kalnins
Authors: Valts Kalnins, Linda Austere, Goran Klemencic
Financedy by: European Commission
Language:  Latvian, English

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Year: 2009
Editor: Valts Kalnins
Authors: Valts Kalnins, Linda Austere, Goran Klemencic
Financedy by: European Commission
Language:  Latvian, English

The purpose of this biannual report is to analyze the corruption situation and anticorruption measures in Latvia on a regular basis. 

This is already the second issue of Corruption °C in a row during whose preparation the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) operated without a head appointed by the Parliament. One of the themes covered in this issue is difficulties that specialized anticorruption institutions face in Central and Eastern European countries that acceded the European Union several years ago. The article written by the internationally recognized Slovenian expert Goran Klemencic and myself clearly shows that political backlash against this type of agencies is no exclusive feature of Latvia.

During the last decade various types of institutions for the prevention and/or investigation of corruption have been set up in the majority of the new European countries.  Moreover institutional specialization in this area is no longer pure discretion of the country in question but rather a mandatory requirement of international treaties. The cases of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and other countries show that the prospects of this still rather new experiment – to tackle corruption with the help of a specialized institution – remain mixed in this region.

Any generalization about a group of countries so large and diverse is necessarily imprecise. Still it is possible to identify both negative and positive features present in many, though certainly not all of these states. On the one hand, reduced international monitoring that followed accession to the European Union allowed political elites behave more aggressively and try to draw lines how far corruption investigations can go. This results in either tacit unwillingness to cross the line or open clashes between politicians and anti-corruption institutions. In the latter case, even if institutions withhold pressures and maintain their autonomy, a risk of at least perceived politicization increases and prolonged confrontation with the government politicians may feed the appearance of proximity to the political opposition.

On the other hand several possible failure scenarios have been avoided. Most (although surely not all) such bodies have avoided being abused as a tool against political opponents and they have received considerable resources. Therefore the experiment with establishing anti-corruption agencies has for the time being avoided an overall failure although their sustainability and effects on the overall corruption situation are under a question. The year 2009 and appointment of the next head of KNAB will largely clarify the prospects in the case of Latvia.

In line with the wisdom that successful prevention and combating of corruption depend on numerous characteristics of a given society, this report looks also at broader tendencies in the society and public administration in Latvia. 2009 is a year of two – municipal and European parliament – elections in Latvia. PROVIDUS wanted to find out how prepared are Latvian voters to punish corrupt political parties in elections and how important is corruption problem among other issues of concern for citizens when they go to polls. Therefore PROVIDUS commissioned a survey whose results are briefly reviewed in Chapter 2.

It appears that, when assessing a party, citizens pay more attention to a virtually technocratic capacity to solve problems, leaving the honesty of political parties as well as their ideological stances as second-order priorities. Almost all Latvian citizens hold negative attitudes toward corruption but meantime they find themselves in constant competition with other considerations on what is important as well as with widespread perception of corruption as a universally integral part of human mentality.

Speaking about public administration, this Corruption °C turns to the State Police. Linda Austere has compiled opinions of police officers about factors conducive to corruption risks in the police and their ideas about how to reduce these risks. The article concludes that insufficient communication dwarfs the effectiveness of corruption prevention measures already undertaken within the State Police. The average police officer is only partially aware of what steps have been made to reduce corruption and meantime believes that his/her own ideas to this end would be of little interest to anyone. This is a vivid illustration that neither in the whole state apparatus nor in a separate agency may corruption be effectively controlled with the efforts by just a few isolated institutions or officials.


 Corruption °C. 2008. Second semiannum (348.69 KB)

 

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