Looking Back on Corruption: Representations of Corruption and Anti-corruption in Czech Party Manifestos between 1990–2017

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This study follows the constructivist tradition of corruption research. Specifically, we analyze representations of corruption and anti-corruption in the electoral manifestos of Czech political parties and movements between 1990 and 2017. In these documents, corruption is primarily construed as a security issue and is framed within the context of economic and organized crime. The causes of corruption, the main actors behind it, and the proposed countermeasures draw on three dominant discourses: neoliberal, centrist, and populist. Neoliberal discourse attributes corruption to the overextended nature of the state, with public officials as the primary perpetrators of corruption. Countermeasures are based on streamlined public administration and personal accountability of government employees in this discourse. Centrist discourse sees the interweaving of economic and political power as the cause of corruption perpetrated by the mafia or lobbyists. Countermeasures are rooted in legal regulation and cooperation with anti-corruption forces in this discourse. Populist discourse provides an updated interpretation of the former two discourses. It borrows the metaphoric labeling of perpetrators from the centrist repertoire and the logic behind the proposed countermeasures from neoliberal discourse. In the conclusion, we compare our findings with the political constructions of corruption in other cultural contexts. We also shed light on some of the circumstances that may have contributed to framing corruption as a security issue in Czechia.

Klíčová slova:
corruption, anti-corruption, official representations, electoral manifestos, post-socialism, Czechia

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