European Western Balkans

Corruption is acceptable for 29% of Serbian citizens, 51% believe that it can be reduced or eradicated

Photo: Pixabay

BELGRADE – Although the number of citizens of Serbia who distrust the policy responses to corruption is reduced, the level of corruption acceptability has slightly increased, in comparison to 2019, while the number of people who consider corruption as an everyday occurrence is high.

These are the research result conducted by the Centre for Contemporary Politics within the project “Civil society for good governance and anti-corruption in southeast Europe: Capacity building for monitoring, advocacy and awareness-raising (SELDI)”. The research had been carried out using the Corruption Monitoring System (CMS) methodology.

How many people in Serbia have been asked for a bribe and involved in corruption? How susceptible citizens of Serbia are to corruption, and how high is the number of people who accept different forms of corruption behaviour? What are the perceptions of Serbian citizens of the feasibility of policy responses to corruption, and what are their expectations towards corruption? These are some of the questions answered by the CMS methodology.

According to CMS 2021 results, in Serbia, corruption pressure, defined as being asked for a bribe, was experienced by 24,4% of citizens. As to 2019, when the corruption pressure was experienced by 26,9% of the citizens, the results are better. Yet, they could be better.

From 2001, the level of corruption pressure in Serbia has gradually decreased, year by year, until 2016, when the lowest level was noted and when 22,6% of citizens had been asked for a bribe.

Similar results are noted when it comes to the share of citizens involved in corruption. In 2021, involvement, defined as giving a bribe, is recorded among 23% of the population, which is the level lower in comparison to 2019, but also not the lowest – which is noted in 2016, when 18,6% of citizens were involved in corruption.

SELDI Corruption Monitoring System; Photo: SELDI

Ideally, these lower levels of involvement in corruption would be paired with negative attitudes towards corrupt behaviour and a lower level of acceptability of corruption and susceptibility of Serbian citizens to it. Yet CMS 2021 results show a slight increase in corruption acceptance.

Thus, in 2021, the share of citizens who accept corruption in Serbia amounts to 29%, which is not the worst result since 2001 but is worse in comparison to 2019, when 24% of the population accepted it. Besides that, the level of susceptibility to corruption in 2021, although lower than in 2019, remains high.

How do citizens perceive the issue of corruption?

It is essential to highlight that, although more than half of the citizens do not accept corruption as the norm, the likelihood of corruption pressure index measuring expectations of the public for the likelihood to face corruption pressure in interaction with public officials showed interesting results.

Namely, the results show that a considerable number of citizens think that they are likely to become victims of corruption pressure, which indicates that they perceive bribery as an everyday occurrence.

In 2021, 55% of people consider corruption pressure very likely or likely to happen, which is an increase in comparison to 2019.

On the other hand, when it comes to the perception of measures taken to combat corruption, results are the second-best since 2001. More than half of citizens (51%) have a positive perception of policy responses to corruption, and they believe that it can be reduced or eradicated, around 47% do not think so, while the rest do not have an answer. Thus, the share of citizens sceptics who distrust their government’s abilities to address corruption is lower than during previous years. However, there are still large pools of anti-corruption sceptics who do not believe that improvement is possible.

SELDI Corruption Monitoring System; Photo: SELDI

CMS methodology reflects the overall corruption environment in an objective and quantifiable manner. It was designed and developed by the Centre for the Study of Democracy in 1998 and ensures comparability of data across countries and registers the actual level and trends of corruption, as well as the public attitudes, assessments, and expectations in relation to corruption.

This article was published as part of the project “Civil society for good governance and anti-corruption in southeast Europe: Capacity building for monitoring, advocacy and awareness-raising (SELDI)” funded by the European Union.


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