The results of the 2023 “Eurobarometer” survey, looking at a ten-year section, show a similar trend as the Latvian indicator Transparency International in the published 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (KPI), which analyzes the private sector’s perception of corruption in the public sector. From 2012 to 2022, Latvia’s KUI indicator also grew at a similar pace – by 10 points, reaching 59 points and 5 points behind the EU average (64 points). Both indicators show similar trends in the perception of citizens and the private sector in Latvia, and the spread of corruption is wide.
In order to fight against corruption, in the opinion of the association “Society for Openness – Delna”, there is really a lot to be done by the law enforcement authorities, society and every citizen. Anti-corruption work as a whole should provide faster progress in combating corruption, including promoting public and public sector awareness of the negative consequences of corruption in order to encourage more people, including representatives of state authorities, to resist it and report observed violations.
Citizens’ personal experience and willingness to engage in the corruption case
of 2023 “Eurobarometer“ survey reveals that the latter Within 12 months, 7% of the population of Latvia have become victims or witnesses of corruption.
4% of the population have had to pay an additional amount of money or present a valuable gift to a nurse or doctor, or donate to a hospital.
In addition, in order to receive the services provided by the state, 49% of the respondents would give a gift, 30% would do some service, while 23% would give money.
These indicators show a very high tolerance for corruption in society and a willingness to get involved in corruption cases if there is a need. This attitude also makes the work of law enforcement agencies difficult, because there is no public support – corruption is not perceived as a problem that should be fought as a priority.
In addition, only 16% of respondents admit that corruption affects them personally, the majority (78%) disagree with this statement, while 6% do not know what to answer.
In the opinion of the citizens of Latvia, corruption is the most common:
- in political parties (43%);
- among officials who evaluate state tenders (41%);
- in police and customs (41%);
- among officials who issue building permits (40%).
On the other hand, according to the citizens, corruption is the least common in banking and financial institutions – 10% think so.
Citizens do not believe that corruption is worth reporting
Corruption can be detected if it is reported by those involved or those who have information about corrupt cases. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the reasons for citizens’ non-reporting. The “Eurobarometer” survey reveals that Latvian residents do not report corruption because they believe that:
- corruption is a difficult fact to prove (39%);
- there is no point in reporting because those involved in corruption would not be punished anyway (35%);
- those who report such cases are not provided with any protection (24%);
- there is no point in trying (22%);
- those who report such incidents end up in trouble with the police and other authorities (20%).
Thus, the respondents also admit their fear of reporting cases of corruption and indirectly indicate that they do not believe in the ability of the state and law enforcement agencies to fight against corruption. In addition, there is a perception among the respondents that corruption is difficult to prove and very unequivocal evidence is needed.
This suggests that citizens will not engage in the fight against corruption and will not actively limit it.
On the other hand, if someone still wanted to file a complaint about a case of corruption, they would most often turn to the police – 41%, the Office for the Prevention and Combating of Corruption – 32%, the media, newspapers and journalists – 17%. Unfortunately, 6% do not know who to submit a complaint to.
Advocacy and project manager of “Delnas”. Agni Birule emphasizes: “Latvia must finally take bold steps to prevent attempts to bribe officials, strengthen public sector ethics and understanding of conflict of interest, prevent the wastage of state property and public funds, as well as promote the introduction of a whistle-blowing mechanism in the public and private sector, creating public trust in this mechanism and willingness to report. Society as a whole and everyone’s high tolerance for corruption is an obstacle in combating it.”
In order to more successfully fight corruption in Latvia, “Delna” invites:
- promote public trust and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes, introduce integrity pacts as part of the monitoring of public contracts in nationally important investment projects and construction objects;
- to continuously educate society, businessmen and representatives of public authorities about the negative consequences of corruption;
- promote the implementation of internal whistleblowing systems in the public and private sectors, educating the public, civil society organizations and the media about the nature of the whistleblowing system, the various reporting options and whistleblower protection guarantees. The report published by the State Chancellery on the activity of whistleblowers in 2022 concluded that the lowest number of submissions was received in 2022 – 396 submissions;
- prevent unwanted influence in politics by effectively managing conflicts of interest and ensuring the implementation of the Interest Representation Openness Law (2022);
- promote openness and honesty in political parties by reducing the fragmentation of the party system and making information about election candidates more accessible;
- promote honesty and openness in the private sector;
- prevent favoritism in public procurement;
- promote cooperation among law enforcement agencies in the detection, investigation and conviction of corruption cases.
The “Eurobarometer” survey “Citizens’ attitude towards corruption in the EU in 2023” was conducted from April 13 to May 2, 2023. 1009 direct interviews were conducted in Latvia. Nordic countries show the best results among EU countries. Only 13% of the population in Finland, 21% in Denmark and 36% in Sweden consider corruption to be a widespread problem. On the other hand, in the opinion of citizens, corruption is most common in Greece (97%), Croatia (96%) and Portugal (93%). The results of the Baltic countries are different – in Estonia, 48% of citizens consider corruption to be widespread and thus come closer to the Nordic countries in their perception, while in Lithuania 83% think so, which is above the EU average (70%) and much higher than Latvia’s (74%).