Israel ranks high in election integrity, says report

Central Election Committee comes first in Transparency International ranking, while civil service comes last and government, political parties get low scores.

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November 14, 2014 01:47
2 minute read.
knesset

knesset . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Central Election Committee is the least corrupt government institution, while civil service is the most corrupt, NGO Transparency International – Israel’s national integrity evaluation found.

Former state comptroller and Transparency International – Israel chairman Micha Lindenstrauss presented the report, which is part of an international project in cooperation with the European Union for in-depth research on immunity from corruption and governance failures in the years 2011-2013 in 26 European countries, to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni this week.

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The report ranked 10 civic and governmental domains, which it called “the pillars on which the national integrity system rests,” according to their level of immunity from corruption.

The institutions include the government, the Knesset, the judiciary, the State Attorney’s Office, police, the State Comptroller’s Office, political parties, the media and NGOs.

The premise of the evaluation is that a high level of national integrity enables rule of law, democracy and a high quality of life. Each institution was evaluated by its functional ability – its resources and level of independence from outside interference; quality of governance – integrity, accountability and transparency; and the role of the institution in the fight against corruption.

The report examined existing laws enabling each institution to adhere to these parameters, and researchers conducted dozens of interviews with experts in the sectors studied in the report.

The Central Election Committee led with a score of 91 percent. The State Comptroller’s Office came in second place with 83%, followed by the judiciary at 81%.

In last place, with 53%, was the civil service.

The government was second-to-last at 58%, and political parties were third-to-last, scoring 60%. According to the assessment, the three are eroding national integrity.

The government’s default position is non-transparency, the report stated. Civil society, meaning NGOs, were found to have a limited ability to function, and the media were found to be neither independent nor transparent, despite its purported role as watchdog of democracy.

Prof. Ran Lachman, who led the national integrity evaluation project, said the study’s findings “raise concerns over an erosion trend in the ability of the mechanisms safeguarding the national integrity.”

The non-corrupt institutions have limited capabilities to withstand pressure by the more corrupt domains, he said, pointing to bills proposed to weaken the High Court of Justice and the State Comptroller and increase control over the media as an example of such pressures.

“The conclusions of this report should serve as a resource for Israeli decision-makers as they set policy,” he said.

Good governance must be strengthened by shoring up transparency, integrity and accountability, Lindenstrauss said.

“This clear and precise position... should serve as our guiding light,” he said. “We would be hard-pressed to overstate the importance and centrality of proper and ethical public administration to the well-being of the country.”

The former state comptroller called for good-governance NGOs to “not tire in this struggle against public corruption. The difficult parts are still ahead, but our hope is one – that together we can contribute to an ethical


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