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Swiss believe corruption is rife

Most Swiss see corruption as a fact of life, according to the survey swissinfo.ch

People in Switzerland believe corruption is widespread in politics and business.

This content was published on July 3, 2003 - 13:17

The stark assessment was revealed in a survey of 47 countries commissioned by the corruption watchdog, Transparency International.

Philippe Lévy, president of the organisation's Swiss branch, told swissinfo he was shocked by the findings but said they reflected a marked shift in public perception.

“If the same exercise had been made ten years ago, the result would have been very different. People would have said that there is no corruption in Switzerland,” said Lévy.

“Now there is an awareness that corruption happens.”

The group’s first Global Corruption Barometer asked more than 40,000 people in 47 countries how corruption affected their lives.

Almost 80 per cent of Swiss questioned said corruption had a significant impact on political life.

And if given a magic wand and the ability to eliminate corruption from one institution, the Swiss - in tandem with three out of four countries surveyed - put political parties at the top of their list.

About 23 per cent of Swiss chose political parties, followed by the health sector (13.6 per cent) and immigration (11.5 per cent).

In Germany, 40 per cent of respondents cited political parties as the institutions most in need of a clean-up.

Business world

Switzerland’s business community also came in for criticism. The survey found that almost nine out of ten Swiss believe that the business world is affected by corruption to a significant degree.

“Nowadays it’s impossible to open a newspaper without any reference to either corrupt activities or cases where the doubt is there that something was done illegally,” said Lévy.

In terms of their private lives, around a quarter of Swiss believe that corruption has a significant impact on their personal and family life.

This compares with about two per cent in Finland and about six per cent in Germany.

In some eastern European countries, the numbers are alarmingly high, with over 75 per cent of Bulgarians believing that corruption has a very significant effect on their private life.

Convention against corruption

The survey comes as officials from around the world are drafting a United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The draft text, expected to be completed by mid-August, covers a range of corruption issues including the bribing of elected officials, accountancy fraud and banking secrecy.

The convention is expected to be formally signed in Mexico this December and would set up a conference to monitor compliance.

Transparency International’s 2002 survey of corruption in the public sector saw Switzerland ranked number 12 out of 102 countries polled.

swissinfo with agencies

Corruption

Sectors where corruption is believed to play a significant role:
Switzerland:
Private life: 27%
Business: 86%
Politics: 80%

Germany:
Private life: 24%
Business: 84%
Politics: 89%

Austria
Private life: 34%
Business: 79%
Politics: 88%

Italy:
Private life: 44%
Business: 92%
Politics: 95%

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