Grand political corruption in established democracies is the manipulation of the democratic process itself by powerful players internal or external to the political system in order to capture the state apparatus for their own benefit.

Not all forms of grand political corruption are illegal, and many are situated in ethical grey zones. Due to the importance of legal, institutional, cultural and ethical contexts, pertinent standards need to be developed at the national level, as global standards are likely fail to resonate with citizens’ concerns in different national polities.

This paper presents a typology of grand political corruption, looking at the distortion of political discourse, political finance, lobbying, the revolving door, politicised appointments to public positions, the politicisation of the civil service, and cross-border state capture. Each of these seven types of grand political corruption is discussed in detail, with a consideration of the background, standards and case vignettes.


  1. A typology of grand political corruption
  2. Programming options for the TI movement
  3. Assessment tools
  4. Annex I: three broad strategies for tackling grand political corruption
  5. Annex II: definitions of political corruption encountered in the literature


Till Bruckner




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