In several other EU countries, recent corruption scandals and rule of law controversies have raised serious questions about the health of their democratic systems. Among them are Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Malta and Cyprus “, the publication notes.
The Hungarian and Polish cases receive the most attention also because here the dispute contains an ideological element. Viktor Orban, the Hungarian leader, is delighted to give lectures on “illiberal democracy”. In addition, Poles and Hungarians have passed laws that undermine the independence of the judiciary.
In other parts of Europe, high-level corruption and corruption in general tend to respect old customs – they take place in secret and are not accompanied by discourses that attack liberalism. Such scandals attract less attention abroad. But they have provoked mass demonstrations and political instability in many of the countries concerned.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Bulgaria since July to protest against the government led by Prime Minister Boiko Borisov. Crowds are inflamed by reports of politicians and officials buying apartments well below market price – but also by a photo of Mr Borisov near an open drawer full of 500-euro banknotes and gold bars. The prime minister says the images are fake. But even the president of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev, accused him of leading a “mafia government”.
In other EU countries, corruption scandals have come with assassinations.
The economic publication warns that “taken together, deficient democracies represent somewhere between a quarter and a third of the 27 governments sitting at the table of EU meetings”. But even so, poorly governed and corrupt states are well represented at the EU table. European leaders often pose together at conferences for a so-called “family photo”. And in that photo, quite a few cousins and cousins are smiling towards the room.
The Financial Times believes that “when it does act, the European Union is a force for good. After Laura Codruţa Kovesi, an anti-corruption prosecutor in Romania, was fired, it was the EU institutions that supported her. Kovesi was later appointed head of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office – which shows that in the political culture of Brussels, the tone is still set by the governments that take the rule of law seriously “, writes Financial Times.