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Perceptions on the most and least corrupt

Aug 25,2018 - Last updated at Aug 25,2018

Politicians are perceived to be the most corrupt group in Jordan. In the latest wave of the World Values Survey conducted and coordinated by NAMA in a few Arab countries, 68 per cent of adult Jordanian citizens reported that politicians are corrupt. Nearly 18 per cent of those surveyed believed that “all politicians are corrupt”, while 50 per cent stated that most politicians are corrupt. While politicians occupied the top spot in people’s perception of corruption, business people followed in the next spot at 57 per cent. A total of 45 per cent stated that “most business people” are corrupt and 12 per cent said that “all business people are corrupt”. These two groups constitute the most powerful classes in society and largely determine state-society relations through their work in legislation, policy planning and execution. With these two groups perceived by the majority as “mostly” or “all” corrupt, they, as well as society at large, must be seriously concerned about possible repercussions. Perception is not only more important than reality, it is way more dangerous. The extensive open discussions of corruption since 2010 contributed to the creation of a disconsolate perception of civilian establishment in the country.

The increasing loss of faith in civilian establishment to conduct itself well and to protect the interest of citizens is not limited to politicians and business classes; it extends beyond to local governance institutions, such as municipalities. A majority of 56 per cent stated that municipalities are corrupt, with 13 per cent saying all of them are corrupt and 44 per cent saying that most of them are corrupt. Municipalities are concerned with some of the basic services, such as cleanliness and local licensing procedures. According to another poll conducted by NAMA in the second half of June 2018, only 14 per cent reported that they have a “great deal of confidence” in their municipality, while 31 per cent said they “have no confidence at all”, more than double. Moreover, while 8 per cent reported that the “municipal council” is “very effective”, 26 per cent reported it is “not very effective”. When asked about problems at the local governance level, 40 per cent reported issues of corruption and 20 per cent reported cleanliness. Negative perceptions of these above-mentioned levels of power leave observers of governance institutions puzzled as to why these perceptions have gotten so rooted in Jordanian public opinion.

Public sector employees are perceived as less corrupt than politicians, business people and municipalities. At least, those believing that “all” or “most” public sector employees are corrupt are 45 per cent. Although it is a minority, it is significantly important and cannot be ignored just because it is perceived as less corrupt than other groups. The perceived damage is extensive and calls for action beyond business as usual. 

Journalists and media are perceived as the least corrupt among the five groups. Nearly 37 per cent stated that “all” or “most” of them are corrupt. Nearly 9 per cent said “all” are corrupt and 28 per cent reported that “most” are corrupt. In a nutshell, high levels of perception of corruption are dangerous and contribute to the damage of state-society relations, business environment and public morale. The security establishment cannot be tasked with all responsibilities; civilian establishment ought to step up its performance and regain some public confidence to carry the country forward. Improved accountability is needed more than ever before. Democracy is a self-correcting process and we ought to consider more not less of it for the sake of our children.


The writer is chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions

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