On January 30, 2019, Transparency International published the Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 ("Index") which reflects the perceived levels of public sector corruption in non-governmental organizations and representatives of the business world on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The Index has become a reliable observation of worldwide corruption levels. The Index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption based on how corrupt a country's public sector is perceived to be. The rankings are based on a combination of corruption surveys and assessments of businesspeople and experts collected by various institutions through a range of methods. The end results and expert opinions are evaluated by Transparency International for the purpose of composing the Index. In certain countries these opinions and results are gathered face- to-face, while in other countries, such as Turkey, the data is collected through computer-assisted telephone interviewing.

There is little change compared to the 2017 Index, with more than two-thirds of countries having scored below 50 and the average score being 43. New Zealand and Denmark are ranked the highest, with scores of 88 and 87 respectively, and the three bottom countries are Somalia, Syria and South Sudan with scores of 10,13 and 13 respectively. The data shows that despite some progress, for example countries like the United Kingdom, Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal which significantly increased their Index ranking, the generality of the Index seems to be in decline as most countries appear to be struggling with corruption exposure. The full report states that "since 2012, only twenty countries have significantly improved their scores, including Estonia and Côte D'Ivoire, and sixteen have significantly declined, including, Australia, Chile and Malta ".

Following a slow decline between 2015 and 2017 and a rather significant decrease over the past few years, Turkey was able to increase its Index score from 40 to 41 in 2018, but demonstrated an overall decline in ranking. According to Transparency International's clarification, Turkey's increase in score results from the inclusion of one of the nine surveys taken into consideration while calculating the results, which had not been included the previous year. Against the legislative changes that have been undertaken by Turkey with regards to anti-corruption in recent years, it is argued that efforts to enforce and implement these changes have not been sufficient.

With regard to the general decline the Index demonstrates for these relevant jurisdictions, Transparency International notes that "the ratings reflect the deterioration of rule of law and democratic institutions, as well as a rapidly shrinking space for civil society and independent media". The Index also adds that, as a general note, populist politicians are likely to raise corruption levels in countries. It is also argued that violations relating to the rule of law, press freedom, civil society strength, freedom of association and speech have concerning outcomes for corruption perception.

This article was first published in Legal Insights Quarterly by ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law in June 2019. A link to the full Legal Insight Quarterly may be found here

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