Corruption in Portugal - How We Compare to Other Countries »
Perception of Corruption in Portugal

Corruption in Portugal – How We Compare to Other Countries

An issue that concerns everyone is corruption in Portugal. Are we a more or less corrupt country than others? And what can we do to combat this evil that affects our democracy, our economy and our society?

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Corruption in Portugal

In the Jornal Nascer do Sol, in an interview on November 3, 2023, the President of the Supreme Court of Justice (STJ) responds to the question of “creating the regime for the crime of illicit enrichment” saying that “it would be a good instrument to combat the phenomenon of corruption that is installed in Portugal and that has a very strong expression in Public Administration. This is not a simple perception, it is a certainty!”

This alert states that corruption is present in Portugal, which we all recognize, but it is not a simple perception, but a certainty!

Corruption exists and must be combated due to the negative effects it causes.

It particularly affects the Portugal's reputation compared to other democratic countries.

Comparison of Corruption in Portugal with the Rest of the World

Let's compare it with the other countries, to get an idea of ​​the position that Portugal occupies.

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The organization International Transparency prepares an annual report on levels of corruption in the public sector in various countries around the world.

According to the 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI or CPI), Portugal ranks 33rd out of 180 countries, with a score of 61, a rating between 0 (very corrupt) and 100 (very transparent).

In statistical terms, 33rd place out of 180 places Portugal among the 38 countries with a score above 60, that is, among the 20% of countries with the least corruption.

However, the country considered to have the least corruption, Denmark, has a Corruption Index (CI) of 90, that is, there appears to be no country without corruption.

This index, although not based on concrete corruption data, is suitable for comparison between countries. The evaluation procedures are the same for all countries, so the error will be relatively similar in all of them and the comparative result appears to be safe.

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To be part of this index, countries must have a minimum number of entities responding to the survey and, depending on this number, the degree of possible error expected is calculated (calculated by the standard deviation of the sample) and respective maximum and minimum CI values. .

Furthermore, there is no other type of indicator for assessing corruption made by any exempt entity.

Corruption Index in the World; Source Transparency International
World Corruption Index; Source: Transparency International

This means that we are below the European Union average (64) but 18 points above the world average (43).

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With Portugal being below the European Union average, this classification should worry us even more and we need to find ways to improve.

The CPI score reflects the degree to which citizens perceive corruption in their country's public sector. It is not a measure of actual corruption, but of perceived corruption.

Without a doubt very far from the top 6 in the world, Denmark with 90 points, Finland and New Zealand with 87 points, Norway with 84, Singapore and Sweden with 83 points.

However, 2/3 (67%) of countries have a score below 50 and the average score is 43.

The worst placed countries are Somalia with 12 points, Syria and South Sudan, with 13 points each, followed by Venezuela with 14 and Yemen with 16 points.

The map below illustrates the comparison between the various countries of the European Union.

Corruption Index in the European Union; Source Transparency International
Corruption Index in the European Union; Source: Transparency International

Thus, Portugal with 62 points has the same score as Lithuania (62) but below Austria (71) France (72) and Belgium (73) and slightly better than Spain (60) Latvia (59) Czechia (56) and Italy (56).

The joint Region of Western Europe and the European Union (WE/EU) scores 66, although having the highest average of all other Regions, progress is stagnant in more than half of the countries, including Portugal.

Corruption is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon, involving political, economic, social and cultural factors.

Corruption Perception; Source: Transparency International 2022, CC BY-ND 4.0
CountryRegionCPI scoreRankStandard deviationSourcesIC MinIC Max
Afghanistan. AP241506.3041434
AlbaniaACE361011.3283438
AlgeriaMENA331161.6763036
AngolaSSA331162.8172838
ArgentinaAME38942.3373442
ArmeniaACE46632.4764250
AustraliaAP75130.7897476
AustriaWE/EU71221.5386874
AzerbaijanACE231572.4061927
BahamasAME64305.3235573
BahrainMENA44696.1963454
BangladeshAP251471.9382228
BarbadosAME65293.2846070
BelarusACE39913.1473444
BelgiumWE/EU73181.5287175
BeninSSA43722.4273947
BhutanAP68252.1846472
BoliviaAME311262.4162735
Bosnia and HerzegovinaACE341102.1873038
BotswanaSSA60352.6385664
BrazilAME38941.5883541
BulgariaWE/EU43721.06104145
Burkina FasoSSA42771.3774044
BurundiSSA171712.3351321
Cape VerdeSSA60354.8145268
CambodiaAP241502.7881929
cameroonSSA261421.3792428
CanadaAME74142.1287177
Central African RepublicSSA241500.8152325
ChadSSA191671.5161721
ChileAME67271.3496569
ChinaAP45651.8194248
ColombiaAME39911.3883741
ComorosSSA191675.4841028
CongoSSA211641.2671923
Costa RicaAME54483.1674959
Ivory CoastSSA37991.9793440
CroatiaWE/EU50570.9394852
CubaAME45652.8754050
CyprusWE/EU52512.4684856
CzechiaWE/EU56411.08105458
DSSA201660.9991822
DenmarkWE/EU9011.7188793
DjiboutiSSA301301.7452733
DominicaAME55451.9035258
Dominican RepublicAME321231.3173034
EcuadorAME361011.0773438
EgyptMENA301301.7862733
El SalvadorAME331161.9173036
Equatorial GuineaSSA171712.5541321
eritreaSSA221624.7851430
EstoniaWE/EU74141.01107276
EswatiniSSA301305.9032040
EthiopiaSSA38941.3183640
FijiAP53494.3234660
FinlandWE/EU8721.1988589
FranceWE/EU72210.6487173
GabonSSA291362.0762632
GambiaSSA341103.7672840
GeorgiaACE56413.0365161
GermanyWE/EU7992.1787583
GhanaSSA43721.4394145
GreeceWE/EU52512.1484856
GrenadaAME52513.2334757
GuatemalaAME241501.1372226
GuineaSSA251471.6072228
Guinea-BissauSSA211642.6761725
GuyanaAME40852.1853644
HaitiAME171711.3461519
HondurasAME231570.5082224
Hong KongAP76121.6187379
HungaryWE/EU42771.46104044
IcelandWE/EU74143.8376880
IndiaAP40851.1893842
IndonesiaAP341101.7883137
IranMENA251472.3272129
IraqMENA231573.9851630
irelandWE/EU77100.7987678
IsraelMENA63312.0576066
ItalyWE/EU56411.7185359
JamaicaAME44693.6663850
JapanAP73181.8697076
JordanMENA47612.3884351
KazakhstanACE361013.2993141
KenyaSSA321231.5093034
Korea, NorthAP171713.7841123
Korea, SouthAP63311.03106165
KosovoACE41842.5863745
KuwaitMENA42771.7463945
KyrgyzstanACE271401.3272529
Laos. AP311263.7052537
latviaWE/EU59391.36105761
lebanonMENA241500.8272325
LesothoSSA37993.8763143
LiberiaSSA261421.7272329
libyaMENA171711.5951420
lithuaniaWE/EU62331.14106064
LuxembourgWE/EU77101.0887579
MadagascarSSA261421.6772329
MalawiSSA341101.7193137
MalaysiaAP47611.3794549
MaldivesAP40854.8333248
MaliSSA281371.6382531
MaltaWE/EU51542.5274755
MauritaniaSSA301301.6862733
MauritiusSSA50571.7864753
MexicoAME311261.6292834
MoldovaACE39911.6583642
MongoliaAP331160.8283234
MontenegroACE45651.9354248
moroccoMENA38941.8073541
MozambiqueSSA261421.8982329
MyanmarAP231571.9072026
NamibiaSSA49592.4874553
NepalAP341100.9363236
NetherlandsWE/EU8082.0187783
New ZealandAP8721.4188589
NicaraguaAME191671.0481721
NigerSSA321231.5073034
NigeriaSSA241501.6082127
North MacedoniaACE40851.9573743
norwayWE/EU8441.1778286
OmanMENA44694.9553652
PakistanAP271401.9272430
PanamaAME361011.0873438
Papua New GuineaAP301302.3462634
ParaguayAME281371.7072531
PeruAME361011.4383438
PhilippinesAP331160.9393135
polandWE/EU55451.37105357
PortugalWE/EU62331.6385965
QatarMENA58405.0865066
RomaniaWE/EU46631.01104448
RussiaACE281371.7382531
RwandaSSA51542.7964656
Saint LuciaAME55453.7034961
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesAME60354.5135367
Sao Tome and PrincipeSSA45654.8243753
Saudi ArabiaMENA51544.6464359
SenegalSSA43721.4094145
SerbiaACE361011.3383438
SeychellesSSA70231.7836773
Sierra LeoneSSA341101.7393137
SingaporeAP8351.3088185
SlovakiaWE/EU53491.72105056
SloveniaWE/EU56410.96105458
Solomon IslandsAP42777.6732955
SomaliaSSA121801.746915
South AfricaSSA43722.0184046
South SudanSSA131781.9051016
SpainWE/EU60352.4185664
Sri LankaAP361010.8073537
SudanSSA221623.4781628
SurinameAME40855.3843149
SwedenWE/EU8352.2087987
SwitzerlandWE/EU8271.8577985
SyriaMENA131781.5751016
TaiwanAP68251.6686571
TajikistanACE241503.1361929
TanzaniaSSA38940.9993640
ThailandAP361011.0993438
Timor-LesteAP42775.0343450
TogoSSA301301.7072733
Trinidad and TobagoAME42773.8673648
tunisiaMENA40851.1273842
TurkeyACE361011.5193438
TurkmenistanACE191671.0751721
UgandaSSA261421.4982428
UkraineACE331161.4483135
United Arab EmiratesMENA67273.1076272
United KingdomWE/EU73181.8587076
United States of AmericaAME69242.1196672
UruguayAME74140.6677375
UzbekistanACE311261.7182834
VanuatuAP48602.7234452
VenezuelaAME141771.3081216
Vietnam AP42771.5084044
YemenMENA161761.9871319
ZambiaSSA331161.5093135
ZimbabweSSA231571.5382026

There is no magic solution to eradicate corruption, but rather a set of measures that must be adopted by governments, companies and civil society.

Anti-Corruption Measures

Some of these measures already identified are:

– Strengthen the transparency and accountability of public institutions, guaranteeing access to information, citizen participation and social control;

– Combat impunity and state capture by private interests, ensuring the independence and effectiveness of the judicial system, as well as supervisory bodies and anti-corruption agencies; regulate and make registration of “lobbyists” mandatory, allowing public scrutiny of lobbying interactions and applying strong penalties for conflict of interest.

– Promote integrity and ethics in the public and private sectors, establishing codes of conduct, reporting and protection systems for whistleblowers, mechanisms to prevent conflicts of interest and illicit enrichment;

– Educate and raise awareness among citizens about democratic values ​​and human rights, fostering a culture of active and responsible citizenship, which rejects and denounces any form of corruption.

One of the recommendations that “Transparency International” makes in relation to the best-scoring countries is the need to crack down on corporate secrecy, foreign bribery and the complicity of professional enablers such as bankers and lawyers. New ways of working together must also be taken advantage of to ensure that illicit assets can be effectively tracked, investigated, confiscated and returned to victims.

In Portugal, the IPC results reflect that there is an increased risk of a lack of transparency and control in the defense and national security sector, as well as in the Visas Gold program, in relation to which corruption risks could put pressure on the real estate market.

Corruption is a serious problem that affects us, directly or indirectly.

Trust in institutions is undermined, public resources are wasted, competition is distorted, sustainable development is harmed, fundamental rights are violated and the human development in Portugal and around the world.

Therefore, we all need to get involved in the fight against this evil. Only in this way can we build fairer, more prosperous and more democratic countries.

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