Transparency International Turkey today says recent widespread allegations of deeply-rooted corruption across Turkey’s political establishment show the country urgently needs to do much more to clean up politics.
Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer launched in July 2013 already showed that Turkish citizens identified political parties, Parliament and media as the most corrupt institutions of the country. Now, TI Turkey has five recommendations that could be the first step to ensuring the current unfolding national reputational issue is addressed seriously and systematically.
Without immediate action to promote integrity among government officials, to stop abuse of public office and to eliminate nepotism, Turkey’s political system, its financial markets and its global reputation will suffer further.
“While a focus on proper and thorough investigation of corruption allegations is important, it is just as important to tackle the main shortcomings of the Turkish system and start working on improving it as quickly as possible,” said Oya Özarslan, Chair of Transparency International Turkey. “In such a situation, government should avoid to appear to restrict the powers of the judiciary, but should make the necessary changes to put the politics branch in order”.
Transparency International Turkey's main policy recommendations for clean politics:
1. A Political Ethics Law to ensure the integrity and ethical behaviour of members of parliament (MPs) must be enacted and implemented urgently. While there are rules about professional ethics that apply to other levels of public officials, the fact that there are no similar regulations for lawmakers is a major deficiency in our system. Such a law should include codes of conduct, rules on gifts and hospitality, post-employment restrictions, requirements to record contact with lobbyists, conflicts of interest policies, and public asset declarations.
2. All elected officials, ministers, high-level bureaucrats and leaders of political parties should disclose their assets to the public via the Internet. Declarations of assets should be renewed each year to enable efficient monitoring and auditing by the public, and declarations must be investigated by an independent body.
3. Corruption-related crimes must be excluded from the scope of the immunity granted to MPs. Turkey grants wide immunities to MPs including corruption related crimes, resulting in a lack of accountability and a license to act with impunity.
4. The current political party financing system lacks transparency and makes it difficult to monitor sources of income and political party expenses. Regulations for election campaign financing are missing completely, creating the risk of unregistered donations and opening the door to favouritism toward big donors. A system ensuring the transparency and accountability of political party financing and auditing should be introduced immediately. Election campaign budgets must be declared already during the election campaign and need to be effectively monitored.
5. A mechanism is required to allow independent organizations to monitor elections. This is a major obstacle to transparent and fair elections.
Transparency International Turkey calls on the Turkish government to enact these changes, and moreover, to implement and to enforce them as soon as possible.
Transparency International Turkey also invites the Turkish people to take the first step against political corruption by signing TI-Turkey’s online petition that calls for greater disclosure of assets held by politicians and high level-bureaucrats. We invite everyone who wants to live in a country free of corruption to participate in this initiative.