Exactly how corrupt is Sweden?


Evil-doings and corruption is the flavour of the month in the Swedish press.

First, we were informed about the deep run corruption relating to public tenders in Gothenburg. Next, we were presented with MPs who had been invited on paid trips by private corporations or given free tickets to go to the Stockholm Open. Yesterday, a new book came out exposing the king’s alleged naughty-doings 20 years ago – naughty-doings that involved gambling, drinking and escort girls.

But just how corrupt is Sweden, in comparison to other countries? Well, first you have to define what corruption is. Is it misuse of power, or public funds, or position? Is it lying to gain public office? Is it prioritising personal progress? Different countries may perceive it differently.

Transparency International(TI) is an organisation that produces the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). They define corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This definition encompasses corrupt practices in both the public and private sectors. The CPI is an index which allows us to compare how ‘corrupt’ countries are.

In the 2010 index, Sweden comes out as the fourth least-corrupt country in the world, a joint position held with Finland. The least corrupt countries are Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore. See http://www.transparency.org

It’s interesting that corruption is what the Swedish media chooses to report at the moment. A quick look around Europe shows a similar phenomenon – in times of recession and economic depression, issues of corruption become more important. When the people are suffering, their tolerance levels fall. The UK’s reporting of the many MP’s who used public funds for private investments is a classic example.

Sweden is in a recession at the moment. And when this happens, people start questioning the behaviours and standards of others. The King’s position becomes a target for public interest. The privileges that leading politicians have starts to be questioned.

As the fourth least-corrupt country in the world, Sweden doesn’t really have much to worry about when compared internationally.

I am sure that once the recession is over, what the king did in the 1980’s will seem irrelevant and unimportant.

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