Thirty-seven out of Eighty-five
Transparency International announced its international corruption perception index (CPI) on Tuesday, and the Czech Republic found itself in 37th place among the 85 countries surveyed. It is not easy to say exactly what this figure represents, because it is not a measurement of corruption per se but rather an indication of the population's perception of corruption in the country.
The Czech Republic is behind most of the EU countries in terms of the CPI, but interestingly, Italy falls behind the Czech Republic just slightly. Estonia seems to be leading the Central and East European pack of countries in transition, and Chile beat all these countries. Hungary fared better than the Czech Republic, and Poland and Slovakia were behind. But it is with margin of error taken into account, even these very rudimentary statements become questionable.
At the same time, the polling agency Sofres-Factum released a survey showing that people see government offices and the police as the main sources of corruption. The same survey, however, showed that one in five people said that corruption was "everywhere" in Czech society. Unfortunately, Sofres-Factum does not reveal margin of error with its results as was done with the CPI results from TI themselves (as is normal practice in the USA and), so some of the data are difficult to interpret. Stanislav Hampl of Sofres-Factum remarked to Britske listy that people in the Czech Republic are not used to seeing such figures with their data, but he agreed that in the future, his agency would consider including margins of error with their results. This may seem like a minor point when you condsider that for a survey of over 1000 people, margin of error is usually about 3%, but in smaller sub-groups of the data set, for example women over fifty living in smaller towns, the margin of error could reach 10% or more, which is rather significant.
A further complication with the Sofres-Factum data is that results according to age, gender and size of hometown are already worked up and presented only partially. It would be better to offer journalists the raw data and have them draw their own conclusions.
Still, some points of the survey were intriguing. 90% of Czechs, for example, denied ever having been offered a bribe. 21% say they were made to pay bribes, and about half of those (10.9%) said they have been made to pay bribes more than once.
Unfortunately, such numbers cannot really capture the problem in its entirety. Personal stories of bribery and corruption are always more compelling. I fear that with all the numbers and charts, the real story may have been lost.