Denmark is the least corrupt nation in the world, according to an index which suggests corruption is contributing to a crisis in democracy around the world.
The Nordic nation is followed closely by New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland.
But no country is completely free of corruption, according to the latest report by Transparency International. Even Denmark has experienced recent corruption cases, the report authors note, such as a money-laundering scandal surrounding Danske Bank, its biggest lender.
At the other end of the scale are Somalia, Syria and South Sudan, which all score poorly on Corruption Perceptions Index for 2018.
Weaker democratic institutions
Transparency International, an NGO founded in order to combat global corruption, said that countries with higher rates of corruption have weaker democratic institutions and political rights.
Managing Director Patricia Moreira says: “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.”
The NGO calls on governments to strengthen institutions that maintain checks and balances over political power; enforce anti-corruption legislation; and support civil society, and a free and independent media.
The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and businesspeople, with a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
Low score for two-thirds of countries
Last year, more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50, with an average score of just 43.
Transparency International highlights the situation in Hungary and Turkey, whose CPI ratings have dropped over the past six years. It notes: “These ratings reflect the deterioration of rule of law and democratic institutions, as well as a rapidly shrinking space for civil society and independent media, in those countries.”
The United States dropped out of the top 20 least corrupt nations for the first time since 2011. Transparency International says: “The low score comes at a time when the US is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances, as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power.”
It says Brazil is another nation to watch, after it earned its lowest CPI score in seven years. New president Jair Bolsonaro has made promises to end corruption.