12 E. Eur. Const. Rev. 87 (2003)
Do Uncorrupt Governments in Corrupt Countries Have Incentives to Launch Anticorruption Campaigns

handle is hein.journals/eeurcr12 and id is 215 raw text is: Do Uncorrupt Governments in Corrupt Countries Have
Incentives to Launch Anticorruption Campaigns?
Ivan Krastev and Georgy Ganev

hen somebody                 talks or writes about
corruption, regardless of who is talking or
writing, regardless of what is written or
said, and for whatever purpose either is done, the talk
is always harmful for the government, regardless of
who is in the government and how corrupt the
government actually is. The worst is when the govern-
ment joins the corruption talk. Thus a seasoned
politician  in  a   moderately   reformed    country
commented on our interest in writing a book about
anticorruption campaigns. He did not even entertain
the idea that a government has an incentive to talk
about corruption. Could he be right?
We treat corruption and anticorruption as polit-
ical resources. It is up to politicians to decide on the
particular value of these resources in a concrete polit-
ical context. In democratic politics, corruption is not
simply the use of public office for private gain. It is a
way to raise campaign money and to control loyalties
that can be critical for electoral success. But corruption
may have a high political cost. Generally, voters do not
like corrupt politicians. It is the voters' perception of
corruption as a social evil that also makes anticorrup-
tion a political resource. The stronger the moral
rejection of corruption, the higher the risks of a
corruption-centered politics and the stronger the
incentives for an anticorruption politics, and, one
would think, the greater the reward.
An uncorrupt government is not synonymous
with an incorruptible government, or even with a clean
or honest government. An uncorrupt government is
one that is convinced that it cannot be reelected
through a corruption-based strategy and has decided
not to rely on such a strategy. Such a government esti-
mates that raising party funds and creating political

loyalties through corruption would be more costly,
politically, than not raising this money. In this sense, an
uncorrupt government is a government that does not
seek reelection through corruption.
An anticorruption campaign, in the fullest sense,
is not simply a mix of anticorruption policies. An anti-
corruption campaign is a governmental strategy that
defines corruption as the major problem faced by the
country and formulates the reduction of corruption as
the government's major policy objective. In the specific
case we will be looking at, the campaign includes the
implementation of a World Bank-designed set of anti-
corruption policies and the use of anticorruption
rhetoric to justify the government's policy decisions. In
this sense, to implement an anticorruption policy
package in the absence of anticorruption rhetoric
would not qualify as a campaign.
The assumption of current anticorruption litera-
ture is that uncorrupt governments have incentives to
be involved in anticorruption politics. Anticorruption
campaigns are viewed as opportunities for mobilizing
support for reforms at a time when the initial support
for reforms is exhausted, and the public is alienated and
disappointed. But is this the real story?
In 1997-98, the World Bank and other interna-
tional donors (also referred to as international financial
institutions, or IFIs) identified corruption as the major
cause for the failure of reform in places like Russia.The
discovery of corruption served two related purposes. By
blaming corruption for the failure of reforms designed
by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World
Bank, the IFIs could claim innocence for the dismaying
results of the policies they had advocated. But what is
more important, anticorruption rhetoric was perceived
as an opportunity to generate new enthusiasm for what

SPRING/SUMMER 2003                                                                                                                 87

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