Iceland Still The Most Corrupt Nordic Country - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland Still The Most Corrupt Nordic Country

Published January 29, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Art Bicnick

Public perception of corruption in Icelandic society continues to increase, according to the latest data from Transparency International. The country has also moved down a place in rank since last year.

Iceland currently tied for 14th in rank, along with Hong Kong and Austria, out of a possible 180 countries, putting it far below all other Nordic countries. Denmark is ranked first, and is therefore the least corrupt according to TI’s index, with Finland and Sweden tied for 3rd and Norway in 7th. As such, Iceland has fallen down one place from last year.

Public perception of corruption, a separate index with a score from 0 (thoroughly corrupt) to 100 (corruption-free), continues its increasing trend. Iceland is currently at a 76 on that scale, down from 77 the year previous and 79 in 2015.

Numerous factors likely come into play when it comes to public perceptions of corruption. Nepotism and a lack of transparency, especially when it comes to conflict of interest between politicians and business, are both known phenomena in Iceland.

In addition, a 2018 report from the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), “called for Iceland to strengthen its systems to limit risks of corruption and improper conduct in government functions and law enforcement agencies”, noting that “[t]he government established in 2014 an anti-corruption steering group. It is striking that in the above context, no strategic action or dedicated overarching policy was elaborated by the group to promote integrity in State institutions.”

GRECO has recommended “more robust and consistent rules of conduct, for instance in relation to gifts and other benefits and contacts with third parties seeking to influence government work, including lobbyists. Additional measures also need to be taken concerning revolving doors and parallel activities.”

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