Denmark falls down anti-corruption rankings

Political action needed on party funding, lobbyism and freedom of information if Denmark is to regain pole position

Every year, Transparency International publishes a poll ranking 180 countries according to their perceived level of public sector corruption. Since 2012, Denmark has been in joint first place with New Zealand.

However, the newly-released figures for 2017 show that Denmark – with 88 points out of 100 – has lost a point and is now in second place, followed by Finland, Norway, Switzerland and Singapore.

An alarm signal
“Denmark is still amongst the least corrupt countries in the world, but over the years, there has been a falling trend in Denmark’s evaluation. We see that as an alarm signal,” Natascha Felix, the chair of the Danish department of Transparency International, told Politiken.

Felix specifically mentioned the way the IT firm Atea handed out costly gifts to a number of ministerial and municipal employees in connection with trying to win a contract.

There is also the question of the new freedom of information laws, the way SKAT gave away 12 billion kroner to fraudsters and the abuse of power uncovered in the case of the Tibetan supporters wishing to demonstrate during the visit of China’s head of state.

Action needed on political funding
Felix would like to see action taken on a political level – especially the lack of transparency over private support to political parties and the lack of a register of lobbyists.

Mette Frisk Jensen from Aarhus University has been researching this field for some time now and she agrees with Transparency International’s evaluation of the situation and the priorities.

“Not least the field of private funding for political parties. It’s been talked about for ages and we have been criticised internationally over this. It seems strange that politicians don’t want to create transparency,” said Jensen.

“It means that you cannot discount the fact that it is possible to buy your way to political results in Denmark.”

The Transparency International report is available in English here