Dan Hough

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A flag is pictured in Erfurt during an Oct. 26 campaign event of Germany’s AfD. (Christof Stache/Afp Via Getty Images)

Germany held its last regional election of the year, in the eastern state of Thuringia, this past Sunday. The results followed a now-familiar pattern.

The two parties that form the national government — Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) — saw their combined vote share squeezed to 30 percent, a historic low for the two so-called “people’s parties.” The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) polled robustly, coming in at 23.4 percent. Throw in the 31 percent won by the Socialist Left Party (LP) and the results give mainstream politicians plenty to think about.…  Seguir leyendo »

Zimbabweans protest over fuel price increases, Harare, Zimbabwe – Jan 14. 2019. (Photo by AARON UFUMELI/EPA-EFE/REX (10056289t)

On Jan. 29 Transparency International launched its annual global index of corruption. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) measures perceived levels of corruption in 180 countries. It gives each country a score between 0-100 – the closer to 100, the better the country is doing in fighting corruption.

African countries come off worst. Across the 49 African states in the CPI the average score remains 32. Transparency International argues that a score of under 50 indicates serious corruption problems while a score of under 30 indicates that corruption is endemic.

Corruption is one reason for protests

The widespread corruption threat has periodically prompted citizens to take to the streets and protest.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sunday, about 9.5 million voters in southern Germany went to the polls to elect the Bavarian state parliament. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the liberal Greens had good nights — but the traditionally dominant forces in German politics, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, had nights to forget.

The result subsequently threw up a host of questions for Bavarian, German and broader European politics.

A peculiarity of German politics meant that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) wasn’t on the Bavarian ballot paper. Germany is made up of 16 states, and the CDU competes in 15 of them.…  Seguir leyendo »

Curious about the world’s most — and least — corrupt countries? On Wednesday Transparency International (TI), a well-known NGO devoted to global anti-corruption, released its annual scorecard.

TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows the United States now sits in 16th place (of 180 territories), with a score of 75 out of 100. That’s a small improvement on the 2016 index in which the United States was 18th with a score of 74.

Yet barely a day seems to go by without new corruption allegation s involving the Trump administration — including conflicts of interest among top officials and obstruction of justice claims against the president himself.…  Seguir leyendo »

German politics just got interesting. In Sunday’s national election, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) came out best with 33 percent of the vote, but an 8.5 percentage point drop in support from the 2013 election leaves the party battered and bruised.

The party that governed with the CDU, the Social Democrats (SPD), performed even worse, pulling only 20.5 percent of the vote. That’s an unmitigated disaster for Germany’s oldest political party.

Throw in strong performances by a range of smaller parties on the left (Die Linke, 9.2 percent) and in the center (the Greens, 8.9 percent, and the Free Democrats, 10.7 percent) and an upstart far-right party (the Alternative for Germany (AfD), with 12.6 percent) — and much of Germany woke up Monday asking: What happens next?…  Seguir leyendo »

An activist seeking more transparency in government clutches a suitcase stuffed with fake money on April 13, 2016, in Berlin. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Corruption, like all contested concepts, is hard to measure. That hasn’t stopped ever more organizations from trying. The most well-known of these is Transparency International (TI), a Berlin-based NGO.

Its most famous product, the Corruption Perceptions Index, has been a regular feature of the anti-corruption landscape since the mid-1990s. It pulls together a variety of surveys on corruption and related concepts in a glorified poll of polls, giving (in 2016) 176 countries a score between 1 and 100; the most recent version was just published on Jan. 25.

The pace-setters in the 2016 version were, as they usually are, the Nordic countries, with Denmark (90), Finland (89), Sweden (88) and Norway (85) all in the top six.…  Seguir leyendo »