Despite improvements, Italy is still seen as one of Europe's most corrupt countries

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Despite improvements, Italy is still seen as one of Europe's most corrupt countries
Rome city councillors hold banners reading "Honesty, Transparancy, Conspiracy of silence" as they protest alleged corruption in 2016. Photo: AFP

Italy ranked alongside Saudi Arabia and Rwanda and below Malta when it comes to perceived corruption in an annual index by Transparency International.


Italy has long been perceived as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. But the latest edition of the annual study shows things have in fact improved once again this year.

Italy gained two points once again in Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Released on Thursday, the study ranks perceptions of official corruption levels around the world.

This year's result continues a trend of gradually improving results in the study year on year. However, analysts say they'll be watching Italy closely as they say the trend could easily go into reverse.


The index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived (not actual) levels of public sector corruption, using a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

As such, the list does not make any claims as to the actual level of corruption in a given country, but rather how much corruption people believe there is.

With a score of 53, Italy improved by two points since 2018 - continuing gradual and sustained twelve-point increase since 2012

"We're happy to see a further improvement but we sincerely hoped for something more," stated Virginio Carnevali, president of Transparency International Italia.

"The slowdown is due to several problems that our country has always had, without being able to solve them," he said, citing organized crime, conflicts of interest and lobbying as examples.

The Transparency International report also warned that a lack of regulation in some areas means there’s potential for trouble “where the public sector meets private" in Italy.

According to the report, Italians believe the two most corrupt institutions in the country are political parties and parliament itself.

Map: Transparency International

Italy once again comes in far behind its northern European neighbours in the corruption stakes.

Scandinavia dominated the top spots, with Denmark once again considered the world’s least corrupt country.

Together with New Zealand, Denmark received 87 points, making the two countries the best placed on the list.

Finland is 3rd on this year’s list, with Nordic neighbours Sweden and Norway in joint 4th and 7th respectively.

The United Kingdom came 12th and the United States 23rd.

Neighbouring Spain also outdid Italy with a score of 62, as did Portugal (64), and Malta (54)

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At the bottom of the European table, Hungary scored 46, Greece 45, and Bulgaria came in last with 42.

This is due to the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption, contributing to a crisis in democracy around the world, the organisation adds.

The index measures perceptions of corruption in relation to bribery and the management of public funds in the public sector.

It does not relate to corruption in the private sector, including money laundering and tax fraud.


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