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Portugal’s ‘fight against corruption’ is at a standstill

euromillions2Portugal’s widely proclaimed ‘fight against corruption’ is at a standstill, according to Transparency and Integrity whose latest report points out continuing public scandals involving corruption and lack of ethics, and the alleged attempts of political control over the Supreme Councils of the Judiciary and the Public Ministry.

The Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 shows Portugal slipped from 29th to 30th place in the 180 country ranking, losing the one place gained in 2017.

For the president of Transparency and Integrity, the index “confirms the stagnation of Portugal in the fight against corruption,” adding that the country had been sitting in the middle of the European table since 2012.

“The accumulation of scandals of lack of ethics in public life, the failure of a Transparency Committee in Parliament – which has produced no results in three years – or attempts at political control over the Supreme Councils of the Magistracy and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, are the practical translation of a lack of political will that is evident and recognised by external observers that make up this index,” said João Paulo Batalha today.

“The fact that the Government engages in disputes with the OECD on the impact of corruption on the economy, rather than pursuing a national strategy to combat this scourge, shows that the current policy remains to try to mask the reality, instead of facing it,” said Batalha, adding that this has been a consistent strategy in recent years, whatever the government.

For the Portuguese part of Transparency International, the fight against corruption in public discussion is crucial this year, as there are three elections scheduled in Portugal, most notably the general election this autumn. Batalha says that it is essential that, “all candidates commit themselves to clear and specific reforms to combat corruption.”

“Portugal will not be immune to the degradation of democracies that is taking place globally if it does not act to preserve its institutions. The debate is urgent and we can not waste more opportunities of taking this forward,” he concluded.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is comprised of 13 surveys and expert assessments that measure corruption in the public sector in 180 countries and territories, each giving a score of zero (highly corrupt) to 100.

Founded in 2010, Transparency and Integrity is part of the Transparency International network, created 25 years ago to combat corruption.