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PERCEPTION IS NOT ALWAYS THE SAME AS REALITY, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO CORRUPTION.

Federico Bergaminelli

18/03/2020

Editor's note - We propose again, also in these pages, some qualified and actual considerations, formulated in September 2019 by the President of the Italian Anti-Corruption Institute, Mr. Federico Bergaminelli, on the subject of Italy's bad positioning in the CPI (Corruption Perception Index).

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Transparency International is an independent international organisation involving more than 100 countries. Founded in 1993, its mission is to fight corruption and, for this purpose, "the movement works tirelessly to stimulate the collective consciousness of the world and bring a change”.

Although it is an organization accredited worldwide and established for 25 years, it has some aspects, such as the CPI index, which are still subject to strong criticism from experts.

The CPI (Corruption Perception Index), although born from noble motives, has, with time, bent, in the use made of it, to give licences of greater or lesser efficiency to the country systems: as has been effectively observed by some jurists, the paradox is that our Country is today considered as a taillight and the storytelling is always the same.

Luciano Hinna pointed out, for example, how the index is still not clear in his methodology: it is in essence calculated by means of interviews but the procedural methodology is undermined, only detecting the result of this unknown methodology.

The attention and the strongly critical position of the experts derives from the great economic and macroeconomic consequences on the country, which derive from this index.

Giovanni Tartaglia Polcini, in affirming the existence of corruption in Italy - and finding himself, therefore, in agreement with the President of the Anac, Raffaele Cantone, when he states that "we must not put the dust under the carpet" - maintains that, although this plague is present and widespread, "despite the attention that has been done by the Institutions, like the Judiciary and the Legislature in the last twenty years", "painting, however, the country looking only at the minus sign or the negative side, means in a certain way to affect the very knowledge of the phenomenon of corruption, because if corruption is not measured properly and correctly, not only the reputation of the country but even the technique of fighting corruption itself is lost".

For this reason, Hinna suggests replacing the perception index with the estimation indicator, while Tartaglia Polcini affirms the need to add to the perception index also indexes of an objective nature, such as orderly indexes.

In fact, it is no coincidence that in the UN Agenda 2020-2030 targets 16.4 and 16.5 refer to the need for reliable anti-corruption measures, as requested by senior diplomats and experienced officials, who realised the discrepancy between the perceptual approach (CPI) and the actual extent of the corruptive phenomenon on the ground.

This misalignment between reality and perceptual data stands out and appears obvious with the use of the so called “Eurobarometro”, an instrument used by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) which is based on surveys by means of interviews on random subjects, therefore not "relevant" as in the CPI, who are asked two questions, one concerning the perception that the interviewee has of corruptive facts in the socio-economic environment that surrounds him/her, the second concerning, instead, the involvement of the person concerned, without recourse, therefore, to an aliunde perception, but to a direct and immediate testimony at a sensory level.

To the second question, surprisingly, only 4% of respondents answered in the affirmative, compared to 40% of those who had a feedback at the only perceptual level.

This explains the 53rd place of Italy in the index of the CPI of Transparency International, which evidently judged our country on that 40% perception against 4% of the real data of corruption in the territory.

In this regard, Tartaglia Polcini brings that 40% of the perception to the paradox of Trocadero, according to which "the more you fight corruption, the more you make it perceptible" and, so to speak, visible, as well as to the consequences of a "negative storytelling, which creates an enormous hiatus between the reality of the country and the representation of the country", and this "not only on an international level", but "also on a national level", and "what is affected is the image of the country".

This result stems from the "strong self-critical sense of the country, whose internal perception has negative repercussions on the outside as well".

In conclusion, in the opinion of the writer, the fight against corruption within our country should also mean enhancing the value of the country itself, not only by emphasizing the effective contrast that is being carried out, but should also publicize the anti-corruption initiatives that arise spontaneously, such as, for example, the establishment and activation of university master's degrees that aim to train professionals experts in anti-corruption; the increasing adoption by companies of ethical codes aimed at eco-sustainability; the growing demand for soft skills, as a sine qua non for hiring, and so on.

To publicize, therefore, the Common Good of our country, instead of putting under the magnifying glass always and only its common evils, would help to improve its image, making even the real data more consistent with the perceptual ones.

 


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