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A new study says that corruption in Albania may worsen on the eve of electoral contests – particularly when the incumbent party faces defeat or a tight contest in the polls.
|PM Sali Berisha campaigning during the 2009 parliamentary elections |
The study published by the South East European Journal of Economics and Business, titled “Corruption, Licensing and Elections - A New Analysis Framework,” analyses corruption and licensing in conjunction with elections, utilizing datasets of national licenses for media and public notaries.
“In the months before or during elections, the number of both types of licenses issued is significantly higher,” Drini Imami, a professor at Tirana’s Agricultural University and author of the study told Balkan Insight.
According to the study, from 2000 to 2007, 43 notary licenses were granted. A total of 19 licenses were granted within a month of both election dates. Within the range of six months before the elections, 25 such licenses were granted, almost 60 per cent of the total for the given period.
Regarding TV licenses, within the last 12 months from the election date, 61 TV licenses were granted out of a total of 120 for the given period 2000 - 2008, or more than half.
Although there is no direct correlation linking the process of granting licenses with corruption, several reports by local and international actors underline that the process of issuing both notary and TV licenses is far from transparent.
According to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Albania ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. The last two parliamentary election years, 2005 and 2009, were characterized by a worsening of corruption in Albania.
Next spring Albania will hold the general elections where Prime Minister Sali Berisha is excepted to bid for a third mandate for his Democratic Party-led centre-right coalition.
Imami underlines that an incumbent government is more likely to engage intensively in corruption if it foresees a high likelihood of losing before the elections or when elections are tight, particularly in an environment of judicial impunity which is the case in Albania.
“If the incumbent was sure that would re-win election, it would be rational to reduce corruption before elections,” he said.
“But if the incumbent chooses to intensify potentially corruption, he should also know that it may cause higher levels of perceived corruption, which may result in loss of votes,” Imami concluded.
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