Washington, October 11 : Transparency in politics can increase corruption rather than decrease it, according to a new study.
Viviana Stechina, an expert from Uppsala University in Sweden, studied why corruption among the political elite was more extensive in Argentina than in Chile during the Nineties.
In her comparison, she focused on the rules of the game of politics, and on the actions of the political elite in situations that offer many incentives and opportunities for corruption.
After deeply investigating several privatisation processes in the two countries, she identified the institutional circumstances that heightened or reduced the risk of elite corruption.
Viviana concentrated on four institutional aspects that corruption experts often put forward as relevant to understand the occurrence of corruption.
The four factors were the extent of intrastate accountability, the extent of transparency in policy-making, the respective degrees of concentration of power, and discretion among decision-makers.
Viviana said that the dissertation suggested that political institutions could play a major role in terms of how vulnerable the two countries were to corruption.
She said that Chile's political system, with stronger intrastate accountability and less power concentration, proved to be more resistant to corruption than the Argentine system.
However, the extent of discretion among decision-makers proved to be less of a factor than corruption researchers normally claim, she added.
The researcher specifically pointed out that the greater transparency found in Argentina did not lead to less corruption in the short run.
"Thanks to the extensive coverage by the press, the public in Argentina had greater access to information about political decisions and actions than in Chile, but this did not prevent the occurrence of corruption and abuses of power. Instead, media reports increased the public awareness not only of the extent of corruption but also of the impunity that politicians enjoyed. In the short run, this probably increased the incentives for corruption. In the long run, on the other hand, there have been advantages with greater transparency," she said.