Switzerland has moved up two spots to fifth place in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2016. Experts have warned against complacency, saying the country is still home to hidden corruption.
The annual surveyexternal link, published on Wednesday, ranks 176 countries on a scale of 100 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt). In 2015 Switzerland was ranked seventh, but this year with a score of 86, Switzerland slotted beneath northern European countries and New Zealand. The global average score is 43, a ranking allotted this year to Bahrain.
The index is based on expert opinions of public sector corruption, looking at the range of factors such as whether government leaders are held to account or if they go unpunished for corruption.
Martin Hilti, director of TI Switzerland, has welcomed the country’s “continuing good results”, but he warned Switzerland’s public sector was not necessarily free of corruption.
“Time and again there are cases of corruption, mainly in the field of public procurement. They are likely to be the tip of the iceberg. We have to assume that there is a considerable number of unrecorded cases,” Hilti said.
TI Switzerland cautions that comparisons from one year to the next have limited significance for assessing the corruption potential of one country compared with another, as it does not include the private sector.
Bottom of the list this year are North Korea, South Sudan and Somalia.
Higher-ranked countries tend to have higher degrees of press freedom, access to information about public expenditure and independent judicial systems. But such countries do have corruption in the form of closed-door deals, conflicts of interest and illicit finance.
In its latest report, TI says the rise of populist politicians such as United States President Donald Trump has contributed to increased corruption.
Trump as well as Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front party in France, discredited their political opponents as “corrupt elite”, but once in office they were doing next to nothing to remedy the situation.