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Absolutely Scandalous

Global opinion on corruption and politics.

Angus Reid 14 Aug

This Tyee series shares with you the research conducted by the Angus Reid Global Monitor, the Vancouver-based leaders in public opinion analysis. TrendWatch columns offer quick, concise context for developing stories in B.C. and beyond.

The Jack Abramoff scandal promises to haunt American Republicans in 2008, or at least that's what the Democrats are hoping. So it should come as no surprise that corruption and ethics have emerged as possible big issues in the Democrats own primaries.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton recently came under fire when she refused to rule out taking money from lobbyists. "A lot of these lobbyists," the former first lady told an audience of bloggers, "whether you like it or not, represent real Americans. They actually do. They represent nurses, they represent social workers -- yes, they represent corporations that employ a lot of people." Clinton's views on the subject are all well and good. But with a recent poll showing that a full 56 per cent of Americans believe most congressional votes are for sale, it may not have shown a dynamite sense of political acumen.

Still, U.S. voters aren't the only ones worried about the ethics of their political class. Political corruption has citizens from Britain to Brazil up in arms. Below is a sampling of global opinion on the topic.

In Britain, 62 per cent of respondents think that campaign donations influenced now former prime minister Tony Blair's appointments to the House of Lords. Four men who secretly donated money to the governing party were later nominated for peerage by the prime minister.

In Russia, 54 per cent of respondents think corruption has continued during the presidency of Vladimir Putin. In 2003, Putin established an anti-corruption committee, which has been criticized by the opposition as a tool to punish wealthy businessmen who do not support his regime.

In Brazil, where a scandal over alleged payments to smaller parties threatened to topple the government of Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, 41 per cent of respondents think corruption is the most embarrassing aspect of life in the country.

In Peru, more than 90 per cent of respondents think corruption is a severe problem. Peruvian President Alan García has implemented an "austerity" project, which entails a reduction in the salaries of "overpaid public servants."

In the Palestinian Territories, 87 per cent of respondents claim the government is corrupt. Last year, Hamas emerged victorious in the Palestinian Legislative Council election -- under the name List of Change and Reform -- by asking voters to "stop the monopoly of decision-making and put an end to corruption."

In Ukraine, 84 per cent of respondents think bribery is widespread. During his term in office, Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko has been dogged by allegations of corruption. He dismissed his entire cabinet in September 2005 to appoint a new roster of senior staff in an attempt to make the government more effective.

In Canada, 64 per cent of respondents think the Liberal Party has not done enough to regain the trust of Canadians since the sponsorship scandal.  [Tyee]

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