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Germany

Germany drops slightly on corruption perceptions index

The global financial crisis took a toll on people's views of corruption in government, as Transparency International released its 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index. Germany dropped somewhat, but remained highly ranked.

Hand pockets 50-euro notes

Germany dropped one spot since last year to 15th

Germans' confidence in the integrity of their government dropped slightly from a year ago, according to an international watchdog group's most recent study of how people see corruption in their government.

Transparency International released its 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index on Tuesday, ranking Germany 15th out of 178 countries surveyed. The group bases the index on 13 different expert and business surveys which ask executives, risk assessors, journalists and others how serious they see forms of corruption like bribery in their country.

The rankings are based on scores from zero to 10, zero being seen as highly corrupt and 10 being seen as with no corruption. Germany received a score of 7.9. Transparency International's regional director for Europe and Central Asia, Miklos Marschall, said several corporate scandals actually helped Germany in its ranking.

Dmitry Medvedev

Medvedev's campaign against corruption has had little success

"We can see that the authorities are very firm on the anti-corruption commitments," he told Deutsche Welle. "The law enforcement is competent, and despite the many big scandals, Germany's position remains relatively good."

Russia hits new low

Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore tied at the top of the index as having the world's lowest perceived corruption. The country that ranked last was Somalia, followed by Myanmar, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Russia received its lowest ranking since the index began in 1995, and the lowest ranking in the Group of 20 leading world economies, dropping to 154th place from 146th in 2009. The results were bad news for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's highly-publicized campaign to crack down on corruption.

"You cannot battle corruption with words and nice bits of paper," said Yelena Panfilova, head of the Russian branch of the watchdog group. "There has been no success ... the struggle with corruption has come to a dead end."

Trust drops after financial crisis

The global financial crisis also appears to have taken a toll on public trust in governments, with the United States, Greece, Italy and Hungary all dropping in their rankings.

Riot police clash with protesters at the Acropolis

Greeks' trust in the authorities has fallen significantly

Greece, whose government has introduced a series of harsh cuts to public sector pay to deal with a massive budget deficit, dropped seven spots from last year to 78th, alongside China, Lesotho and Colombia. Hungary and Italy both fell four places, to 50th and 67th respectively, while the United States dropped out of the "top 20" for the first time and fell to 22nd from 19th last year.

While a population's perception of how corrupt their government is can be useful in measuring actual corruption, the index has its limits. A drop in ranking can often result from the exposure of corruption that had already existed for some time, said Transparency International's Francois Valerian.

"This index does not measure corruption because it is extremely difficult to objectively measure a phenomenon which is hidden by nature," he said.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Andy Valvur

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