Did corruption harm electoral results for the European Parliament?

There is evidence that the institutional corruption of the Qatar Gate (as the entire sub-committee of human rights has been exposed to favors and the outcome changed, this is institutional corruption by Harvard ethics standards) seriously subverted trust in the European parliament and might have influenced results of the EP elections. Recent evidence had already been published that loud public anticorruption while rent seekers get to keep their rents only profits populists (1). But did you read anywhere that most citizens living in France, Germany, Italy and Poland do not trust the EU Parliament, with the French the most skeptical and the Germans the most trusting? The CEVOPOF Trust Barometer by Sciences Po also shows that in the four countries polled (2) most citizens consider their politicians and elected leaders corrupt, Poland and Italy more than France and Germany (75% in Poland vs 52.5% in Germany, still a majority). Women, middle aged people, unemployed and students perceive more corruption compared to retired citizens. This perception predicts trust in the European parliament even better than attitudes towards migration. But in real life the two add up to make somebody vote for radical populists.

The situation is more puzzling in the Eurobarometer, as a ground rule a more optimistic poll when trust is concerned (although not corruption). Although a significant correlation remains between trust and corruption, it is weaker than in the case of CEVOPOF, also because the Index for Public Integrity is used instead of corruption perceptions. France is an outlier, in other words other causes than corruption sink further the political trust of its citizens -its index for public integrity has been stable or even progressing under President Macron. In Italy trust and public integrity are closely linked. Hungary and Poland are outliers, their public integrity has been sinking in recent years lower than public trust. By and large, there are many lessons to learn on how to manage both integrity and corruption perceptions to save trust in EU institutions and politics more generally.

  1. Kartal, M. (2024). The (unintended) consequences of ineffective corruption control on populism in Europe. West European Politics, 1-28.
  2. CEVOPOF, The Political Trust Barometer, 14th Wave February 2023, https://lnkd.in/d3KT2WwC. Data courtesy of Professor Lorenzo de Sio, LUISS.