Types of corruption

Political corruption involves a wide range of crimes and illicit acts committed by decision-makers before, during and after leaving office[1]. It can thus be manifested in a wide-range of ways including: illegal political finance, undue influence on policy-making, state capture, election fraud, vote buying, abuse of state resources during elections, abuse of immunities and other prerogatives related to their position, as well as favouritism in appointments and decisions, among others.

The existence, extent and pervasiveness of these different forms of political corruption vary according to the specific social, economic and cultural contexts in which they are found. As such, the prevalence of a certain type of political corruption depends to a great extent on a country’s legal and institutional and overall integrity system. While corruption related to political finance seems to be an issue affecting both developed and developing countries, vote-buying and election fraud seem to be more prevalent in countries in Africa and Latin America, and abuse of office in East Europe and Central Asia and African countries[2].

Against this backdrop, measures to prevent and curb political corruption often include initiatives in the following areas:

Political finance

It is fundamental to have clear rules regarding the funding of political parties and candidates as well as a strong oversight body that fully investigates potential corruption and abuses. Transparency is also instrumental to allow civil society, media and voters to monitor the process.

Election corruption

A clear legal framework that defines rules for the administration of elections as well as a strong oversight body is essential to prevent election fraud, vote buying and abuse of office. Election monitoring can include the monitoring of the financing of election campaigns and political parties, the misuse of state funds and public administrative resources for electoral purposes and bribery of voters and election officials.

Corporate influence on decision-making

Opportunities for purchasing influence in government are not confined to the electoral process; therefore, countries should seek to implement rules regulating lobbying and the back and forth movement between public office and private companies (revolving door).


To ensure that politicians do not abuse their power and state resources and that decisions are made in the interest of the citizens at large, it is instrumental to introduce codes of conduct, rules on conflict of interest and asset declaration regimes. Further rules to enhance integrity in politics could include rules of incompatibilities.

Impunity of politicians and members of the government.

In many cases, politicians may use their power to exercise influence over the judiciary in order to remain unpunished for corruption and other crimes. In addition, in many countries politicians enjoy extensive immunity privileges that help them to remain unpunished. Immunity rules should be balanced – protecting the office politicians hold but still allowing politicians to be held accountable for more serious offences.  



Francesco Bosso, Maíra Martini, Iñaki Albisu Ardigó


Marie Chêne, Robin Hodess, Ph.D



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