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Is anti-corruption on the political agenda before the municipal elections?

OPENNESS / It is approaching municipal elections, and our municipal elected officials are the ones who make decisions that may be of greatest importance to us in everyday life.


Norway ranks high on international indices, also on Transparency International's corruption index, where Norway stands out as a country with relatively little corruption. However, other studies that target the municipality of Norway show a slightly different picture: Difi conducts every two years Citizen survey, which also asks about the citizens' perception of corruption in Norway.

The following questions are asked: "To what extent do you think that various forms of corruption, such as bribery / 'lubrication' and favoring of family and friends, take place in the Norwegian public sector?" In the question, the concept of corruption is used a little differently than in the Penal Code, since the phenomenon of favoritism has also been included. About 50 percent of those surveyed believe there is corruption in the municipalities. Of course, it is not always the case that perceptions are equated with facts, at the same time there is no shortage of examples of corruption cases and what we can call "gray zone corruption" such as camaraderie, nepotism and favoritism both within municipal administration and at the political level.

Everybody knows everybody.

One challenge in Norway is that we are a small and relatively tightly interwoven population. The term "everyone knows everyone" is often used, and problems of disability are widespread, especially in small municipalities. A mitigating measure and a good vaccination against corruption getting a foothold is the greatest possible degree of openness in terms of both political decisions and administrative dispositions. We know the consequences of corruption well – they are not only economic in the form of more expensive goods and services and unfair discrimination, but also non-economic, which weakened local democracy and reduced confidence that elected officials act with the best interests of the community as a guide.

Transparency International recently launched one examinationKart which charted openness in a number of European capitals. Openness about political decision-making processes, financial dispositions, public procurement, communication and information from municipal council meetings and ethical regulations for elected representatives has been studied. Surprisingly, both Oslo and Stockholm collectively come from behind a number of Eastern European capitals. Although it may be difficult to compare results for capitals with different governance and organization, it is nevertheless thought-provoking that, for example, Bratislava, Pristina, Sarajevo, Skopje and others have full openness about the municipality's procurement (who won the tender, price and product / service), while the City of Oslo does not publish such information.

A strong local democracy requires that we, the voters, care about these issues and demand concrete improvement measures. There is no doubt that Kommune-Norway can increase openness and work more actively against corruption. Good choice!

1. The survey Access to Information in European Capital cities was published 20.8. See

Guro Sletemark
Guro Slettemark
Head of Transparency Norway.

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