Corruption in Bulgaria

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Corruption in Bulgaria has been a central problem of the country's government since the late 1990s, and fighting it has been at the top of the government's agenda. Despite that, Bulgaria has "systematically demonstrated very high levels of perception of corruption."[1]

According to a January 27, 2016 report by Transparency International, the country is considered the most corrupt member state of the European Union (which accepted Bulgaria as a member in 2007). The report is based on the polling of experts from around the world on topics such as a free press, integrity, and independent judiciaries. In 2015, the European Commission found that Bulgaria had done almost nothing to stem the tide of corruption and organized crime.[2] A poll of Bulgarians indicated that 76 percent believe that political parties are corrupt and 86 percent believe that the judiciary is corrupt.[3]

Transparency International's 2017 Corruption Perception Index ranks the country 71st place out of 180 countries.[4] The 2013 Global Corruption Barometer indicated that 49 percent of respondents believed that the level of corruption remained the same in Bulgaria over the preceding two years.[5]

Corruption Perceptions Index[edit]

In the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index, Bulgaria ranked 75th out of 176 countries (a score of 42 out of 100). The lower the number, the more perceived corruption exists in a country.[6]

In the CPI, lower-ranked countries experience "untrustworthy and badly functioning public institutions like the police and judiciary."[7] Often, anti-corruption laws are ignored: "People frequently face situations of bribery and extortion, rely on basic services that have been undermined by the misappropriation of funds, and confront official indifference when seeking redress from authorities that are on the take."[7]

Types of corruption[edit]

Lobbying[edit]

A 2014 study by Transparency International indicated that lobbying in Bulgaria is mainly unregulated and happens behind closed doors. "The report Lobbying in Bulgaria: Interests, Influence, Politics shows that there are significant deficits in the transparency, integrity and equality of access regarding influence over public decision-making in the country." The study used a framework from a project called "lifting the lid on lobbying", and Bulgaria received a "paltry overall score of only 25 percent." For transparency, Bulgaria received a score of 13 percent; for integrity, 25 percent, and free quality of access 38 percent. By 2014, four legislative proposals had been introduced in Bulgaria's parliament but none of the bills passed.[8]

Vote-buying[edit]

During the 2014 parliamentary election, Transparency International Bulgaria's telephone helpline received 202 complaints. One of the top three complaints concerned vote-buying.[3] A pub owner in a small village offered Roma voters US$40 to $55 to vote a certain way, with the money paid only if the political party in question won.[3]

Judiciary[edit]

The Bulgarian Supreme Judicial Council, responsible for personnel policy in the country's judiciary, has a high level of legislative autonomy. It has been involved in a number of scandals, suggesting that it has been subject to external influences on its decisions.[1] Recently, the Council of Europe expressed concern about the lack of judicial independence and the compromised separation of powers in the country.[9] The Venice Commission has raised concern about the Soviet model of Bulgaria's Prosecution which turns it into "a source of corruption and blackmail."[10] Civil activists have demanded the resignation of Bulgaria's General Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov for a long time due to his alleged involvement in high-profile corruption cases.[11]

Economic mismanagement[edit]

Bulgaria is the poorest country in the European Union. It has a per-capita GDP of $16,300, less than half the European average. By 2014, the Bulgarian government was accused of mismanaging the economy so badly that the European Union froze billions of euros in aid.[12]

Bank runs and seizures[edit]

In 2014, bank runs on Corporate Commercial Bank and First Investment Bank "focused new attention on the fragile economy and dysfunctional politics that are hobbling Bulgaria."[12] The bank runs destabilized international investment and the business community's confidence in Bulgaria. The Corporate Commercial Bank run was provoked by its prosecution, and the bank was seized by the Bulgarian central bank. First Investment Bank remained open while Corporate Commercial Bank remained closed. International investment in Bulgaria, $9 billion in 2009, fell to $1.4 billion in 2013. According to the New York Times, corruption and erratic government policy have hurt Bulgaria's business climate.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "National integrity system assessments - Bulgaria 2011". Transparency International. 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2017-02-06. 
  2. ^ Nielsen, Nikola J. (2016-01-27). "Bulgaria seen as the most corrupt in EU". EU Observer. Retrieved 2017-02-01. 
  3. ^ a b c "The Price of a Vote in a Bulgarian Pub". Transparency International. 2015-06-09. Retrieved 2017-02-06. 
  4. ^ "Corruption Perception Index 2017". 
  5. ^ e.V., Transparency International. "Bulgaria 2013 - World's largest opinion survey on corruption - Transparency International". www.transparency.org. Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  6. ^ "Bulgaria". Transparency International. Retrieved 2017-02-06. 
  7. ^ a b "Corruption Perceptions Index 2016". Transparency International. 2017-01-25. Retrieved 2017-02-01. 
  8. ^ "Bulgaria: Opaque Relations Among Politics And Business Undermine Trust In Institutions And Democracy". Transparency International. 2014-12-16. 
  9. ^ "PACE, worried about threats to the rule of law, points to recent developments in five states". Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  10. ^ "Delayed EU Audit of Bulgaria Prosecution Raises Concern". Balkan Insight. 5 May 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2017. 
  11. ^ "Христо Иванов: Има 3 несъмнени основания за моментална оставка на Цацаров". mediapool.bg. 23 April 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c Ewing, Jack; Kantchev, Georgi (2014-07-07). "In Bulgaria, Corruption and Mistrust Turn Promise Into Pain". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-06. 

External links[edit]