In the world’s largest assessment of public opinion on the matter, Transparency International found that more than one in two people think corruption has worsened over the last two years while a quarter admitted to paying a bribe when accessing public services and institutions in the last year.
Published on Tuesday, the Global Corruption Barometer is the biggest study ever conducted by the Berlin-based transparency watchdog Transparency International, which surveyed 114,000 people in 107 countries. Unlike the group’s better-known Corruption Perceptions Index, which relies on expert opinion, this project surveys the public on their views and experiences of corruption.
The survey found that political parties are considered the most corrupt institutions, followed by the police, the judiciary, parliament and public officials. Religious institutions are seen as the least corrupt.
"Politicians themselves have much to do to regain trust," Transparency International said, adding that the barometer “shows a crisis of trust in politics and real concern about the capacity of those institutions responsible for bringing criminals to justice."
"It is the actors that are supposed to be running countries and upholding the rule of law that are seen as the most corrupt, judged to be abusing their positions of power and acting in their own interests rather than for the citizens they are there to represent and serve," it added.
Calling on politicians to lead by example, the group advocated asset declarations for politicians and their immediate families. Political parties and individual candidates, meanwhile, must disclose where they get their money from to make clear who funds them and to reveal potential conflicts of interest.
According to the survey, more than one in two thinks corruption has worsened in the last two years and 27 percent of respondents said they had paid a bribe during the last year.
Still, the group said there is a growing will to fight back, with two-thirds of those who were asked to pay a bribe saying they had refused.
"Bribe paying levels remain very high worldwide, but people believe they have the power to stop corruption and the number of those willing to combat the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery is significant," said Huguette Labelle, head of Transparency International.
She added that "governments need to make sure that there are strong, independent and well-resourced institutions to prevent and redress corruption. Too many people are harmed when these core institutions and basic services are undermined by the scourge of corruption."