98% of Greeks Believe Corruption is ‘Widespread’ in Greece

By Alexi Friedman

A staggering 98 percent of Greek citizens think corruption is “widespread” in their country, according to the latest European Union survey on the subject.

That percentage among Greeks is far higher than the 68 percent of respondents among all EU member states who felt the same, according to the Eurobarometer report.

More than a thousand Greek citizens were interviewed for the latest survey—26,500 across the 27 EU member states. The poll was conducted between March 22nd and April 16th.

Cypriots, Like Greeks, Think Corruption to Be Widespread

Second on the list were Cyprus and Croatia, where 94 percent of respondents in each country thought corruption was widespread. Meanwhile, 91 percent of Hungarians believed that to be the case, and 90 percent of Portuguese thought corruption was widespread.

On the opposite end, just 16 percent of those in Denmark believed corruption was rampant in their country, 17 percent of those from Finland, 32 percent of Swedes, 36 percent from Luxembourg and 43 percent of Estonians believed there was an issue with corruption in their country.

The survey found that, overall, corruption remains a serious concern for EU citizens in all 27 member states.

EU Corruption Report
Nearly every Greek citizen surveyed believed corruption in Greece was “widespread,” a new EU report found. Credit: EU

In focus are national public institutions, where 74 percent of respondents overall increasingly believe that corruption is widespread, followed by political parties (58 percent) and local, regional and national politicians (55 percent), according to the results.

At the same time, Europeans are pessimistic about actions taken at the national level to address corruption as a crime.

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Only a minority think measures against corruption are applied impartially and without ulterior motives (37 percent), that there are enough successful prosecutions to deter people from corrupt practices (34 percent), that their national government’s efforts to combat corruption are effective (31 percent) or that there is sufficient transparency and supervision of the financing of political parties in their country (31 percent).

In Greece, 92 percent of respondents believed there was corruption in local or regional institutions compared to 72 percent respondents from all EU member states.

In one example, Greek police late last year identified at least thirty officers implicated in an illegal citizenship racket. Following a months-long investigation, the officers are said to have provided foreign nationals with illegal citizenship papers and identification documents in exchange for a fee.

Likewise, 94 percent of Greeks believed there was corruption in national public institutions in their country compared to 74 percent for the EU overall, and 88 percent of Greeks agreed that favoritism and corruption hampers business competition in their country, whereas 77 percent of overall EU respondents answered in the affirmative to that question.

Fewer Greeks Say They Experienced Corruption Firsthand

When it came to personal experiences, the answers revealed a different story.

In being asked about whether individuals had personally experienced or witnessed a case of corruption in the past twelve months, 85 percent of Greeks said they had not while 14 percent said they had.

That was still lower than the overall EU average, which found that 94 percent said they hadn’t been on the receiving end of corruption or witnessed a case while just 6 percent said they had.

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The report classified corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.

“It takes many forms, from bribery and trading in influence to less obvious forms such as nepotism, conflict of interest or revolving doors  between the public and the private sectors,” the report said. It added that corruption deepens inequalities, erodes citizens’ trust in public institutions, undermines good governance and social justice, and constitutes a serious threat to the rule of law, democracy, and fundamental rights.

Since December 2019, the proportion of respondents in the survey who think corruption is widespread in their country has declined in twenty countries. Belief that corruption is widespread has increased in five countries. There has been no change in opinion in Slovenia or Germany.

Greece Also Fell In Rule of Law Survey

Meanwhile, Greece also dropped eight positions in the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, an annual global report that measures adherence to fundamental tenets of an open and functional government and society.

Greece is ranked 48th out of 139 countries surveyed, according to the 2021 index. It had been ranked fortieth in the previous one. The survey provides scores and rankings based on eight categories, namely constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.

In a report on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2020, however, Greece improved one spot. That report ranks countries by their corruption levels as perceived by experts in the international community. The list does not measure actual levels of corruption but rather how others view the country in terms of the menace.

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