Romania is still present on the list of Europe’s most corrupt countries. The local administration seems to carry most of the blame; according to official statistics, the highest number of convictions for corruption crimes were issued, in the last few years, against Mayors and Vice-Mayors. In a chart led by Norway, as the fairest country, Romania is in the lowest part of the chart, and is outperformed by some countries such as, Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria.
Bucharest, followed by the counties Maramures, Bacau and Caras-Severin, tops the national chart of corruption. The Capital has registered 4,71 convictions per 10,000 inhabitants. The opposite end of the chart includes counties Salaj and Mehedinti, as revealed by the “Local Corruption Map”, an analysis launched on Wednesday by Clean Romania (Romania Curata) and the Academic Society of Romania (SAR).
The analysis was conceived using data supplied by the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), that has issued 3,125 press releases referring to the definitive convictions in the cases conducted by Anti-Corruption prosecutors during 2010 – 2014, Agerpres announced.
As for convictions pronounced during this period, 2,143 of them were suspended and 982 required execution.
“There is one thing that is not obvious: just see a comparison of convictions that require execution and suspended convictions for two categories of people: people holding high positions and people holding less important positions. The first category enjoys a significantly lower risk, compared to the rest of the world, a statement proved by the fact that they are still more frequently convicted to suspended prison than to compulsory execution, compared to regular ‘mortals’”, SAR President Alina Mungiu Pippidi explained.
Another aspect revealed by the map of local corruption is represented by the high share of Mayors convicted for corruption during the mentioned period. Therefore, during 2010 – 2014, 56 Mayors and 16 Vice-Mayors were definitively convicted.
“The fact is that we have highly corrupt persons elected for Mayors and people still keeps voting for them (…) because they have no other choice. I discovered a meaningful association between the number of DNA convictions in a county and the attendance rate to the elections. People do not go to cast their votes or attend elections in lowering numbers in corrupt counties, because they are aware that they have no choice. The same political figures run for public chairs from behalf of various parties and public perception is that all of them are similarly corrupt”, Pippidi pointed out.
She explained that the database used to conceive the Local Corruption Map would be available on the website www.romaniacurata.ro. Moreover, the map will be interactive and easy to use by interested parties.
“What interests us all is corruption at the level of the system and corruption control, the capacity of society to maintain corruption as an exception, because you will never be able to stop somebody who is profoundly immoral from receiving a bribe but you are able to stop having customs that are corrupt overall, having a police department that is corrupt overall and having tax authorities that are corrupt overall”, Pippidi declared.
She also discussed the four fields her research has focused on: granting public contracts, granting services to the citizens, the so-called “reserve funds” and favouritism in matters of legislation.
“It is interesting to study and to put it this way: out of 100 laws issued by the Romanian Parliament, how many of them are truly laws serving general interest, that can be proved by a study of impact of public policies and how many of them are actually favouring groups that are related to the ones who had initiated or approved the law”, Pippidi declared.
She added that what SAR attempted to do was a scientific approach to corruption, from facts to databases because they grant a systemic approach you cannot have in individual studies.
“We are trying to move from the situation when we are working on cases – cases we keep working on passionately – but the interesting part is how we are working overall, and here we have several examples, such as convictions in DNA files per counties, which we have developed into an interactive map”, the SAR manager also explained.”