Transparency International is publishing today its Corruption Perceptions Index for 2016, and the United States has dropped to 18th among 176 countries, down from 16th for 2015.
The group’s focus this year is the rise of populist politicians.
"2016 showed that around the world systemic corruption and social inequality reinforce each other, leading to popular disenchantment with political establishments and providing a fertile ground for the rise of populist politicians,” says TI’s press release for the corruption index.
"People are fed up by too many politicians’ empty assurances to tackle corruption and many are turning towards populist politicians who promise to change the system and break the cycle of corruption and privilege. Yet this is likely to only exacerbate the issue.
“'In countries with populist or autocratic leaders, we often see democracies in decline and a disturbing pattern of attempts to crack down on civil society, limit press freedom, and weaken the independence of the judiciary. Instead of tackling crony capitalism, those leaders usually install even worse forms of corrupt systems,” says TI Chairman José Ugaz.
“'Only where there is freedom of expression, transparency in all political processes and strong democratic institutions, can civil society and the media hold those in power to account and corruption be fought successfully.’"
The least corrupt countries, according to TI: Denmark and New Zealand. Most corrupt: Somalia.