The Slovenian anti-corruption phenomenon
In this blog, Yuliy A. Nisnevich presents the reults of his research the Slovenia phenomenon: the country demonstrates one of the best results of anti-corruption measures among all post-Soviet governments, even without a formal purge of old leadership.
Today corruption continues to remain a challenge for most post-Soviet states. Unfortunately, this social pandemic was by and large inherited by these countries from the Soviet regime. A lot of representatives of that regime, who actually were the instigators of corrupt practices while governing a state, managed to keep their posts in power even after the regime change. In this way the representatives of the old regime facilitated further spread of corrupt practices in the new government.
My research, conducted in cooperation with Professor Peter Rožič (USA), indicates an interesting phenomenon: lustration, in other words the purge of government officials once affiliated with the Communist system, is indeed an effective mechanism to get rid of corrupt legacy of a previous government. In the majority of post-Soviet states (except for Albania and Bulgaria), where lustration was carried out in one form or another, we can observe a “cleanup” from the instigators of Soviet times corrupt practices in the public authorities. Interestingly enough, nowadays the situation with corruption in these countries is considerably better than in those were lustration was not carried out. However, it is worth noting that lustration per se is not the panacea from corruption, but it does help to create a fertile ground and serves as a springboard for further anti-corruption measures and reforms.
But what we see in Slovenia is, in fact, an obvious deviation from this pattern. Lustration was not carried out in Slovenia. Nonetheless, the country is among the best performers in anti-corruption and can be compared with Estonia, where lustration took place. Today Estonia is ranked by Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index as top performer among all other post-soviet states. We therefore decided to look deeper into Slovenian anti-corruption efforts undertaken by the new democratic government after the collapse of Soviet Union and understand the underlying reasons behind the Slovenian anti-corruption success.
Our research findings indicate that the first factor that sets this situation apart was filtering out the government authorities that could carry out corrupt relationships or practices of the old Soviet regime and replacing them with representatives from the nationally-oriented elites. That kind of purge, supposedly complemented by the factor of the small territorial and demographic sizes, created the advantageous conditions for corruption to be contained from the start before it became widespread.
The second factor was following the GRECO recommendations to take institutional and legal anticorruption measures during the process of joining the European Union. Another of Slovenia’s defining characteristics is the relatively high quality of the implementation of political and good governance principles inherent to the polyarchic democracy, which allows for corruption to be dealt with and kept to low levels through constant civil checks and balances over the decisions and actions of the authorities
* Yuliy A. Nisnevich is Doctor of Political Science, Laboratory for Anti-Corruption Policy of National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russia)