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Survey: Most Argentines Believe Others are More Prone to Corruption than They Are, Distrust Institutions

The already poor image of all institutions worsened in 2018.

By | [email protected] | December 6, 2018 4:24pm


The large majority of Argentines are certain that society is rotten, but that they are one of the few good apples who have managed to stay immune to the lure of the dark side. Moreover, the already small group of people who still have some kind of trust in the state’s institutions shrank even more when compared to last year. These two conclusions were reached by Taquion and Bdo Argentina consultancies after conducting a survey among more than 750 people.

To determine this, the pollsters asked their subjects how they would react in a series of potential scenarios, if they were given the possibility to – illegitimately – take advantage of their peers, and how their think the rest of society would act in the same situation. And while the figures in three out of the four cases improved when compared to last year’s, at least 70 percent of the people surveyed still assured that, if other Argentines were in that position, they would make the “morally unethical” decision. A similar or larger percentage, in contrast, assured  they would never engage in such behavior.

Moreover, 56.4 percent of those surveyed indicated that the main cause of corruption in the country is “the dishonesty of society,” approximately a seven percent increase compared to last year’s 49.5 percent. “The dishonesty of politicians” (29 percent) and “the dishonesty of business leaders” (7.6 percent) lagged far behind.

However, when asked for a specific reason, only 14.4 percent indicated widespread corruption is a result of “cultural causes,” while practically half (48.2 percent) assured this is the case because the judicial system is deficient, and another 15.7 percent blamed it on “poorly written laws.”

But regardless of the causes or the main actors responsible of corruption in Argentina, the vast majority of the people surveyed agreed that all institutions, public or not, definitely are. And the already small group of people who did not agree with the premise in 2017 shrank substantially.

The Judiciary is the least prestigious institution, with 84.4 percent of the people saying it is “extremely corrupt,” and 10.5 that it is “somewhat corrupt.” The figure illustrates a stark drop compared to the last year, when there was still 14 percent of the population who did not believe that this branch was ridden with corruption.

According to the survey’s conclusions, the so-called “notebooks scandal” that rocked the Argentine establishment “seems to have further broken the trust in the government’s institutions.” The Judicial branch definitely took a hit.

The unions also experienced a drop in their levels of (un)popularity. Now, 82.5 percent of the people consider unions to be extremely corrupt, and 12.6 percent say they are somewhat corrupt. In 2017, 19 percent of the people surveyed did not believe this was the case.

In fact, the government is the only institution that is still in double digits, with 23.6 percent. However, its numbers were far less bad in 2017, when they reached 35.7 percent. No institution performed better than last year: police, Congress, businesses and society as a whole also took a nosedive.

Finally, the survey asked people who much governmental corruption they would be willing to tolerate, if, in return, the administration managed to curve inflation, reduce insecurity and provide a better quality of life. And here, the severe economic crisis Argentina is going through seems to have had notorious influence. While the option “nothing” stood at 66.7 percent last year, this answer only reached 43.8 percent in 2018. Moreover, 11.7 percent said they would tolerate “significant” corruption, when this was only the case for 6.5 percent of the people in last survey.

The conclusion, then seems to be: the people surveyed believe society and its institutions are rotten, but when the economic needs become urgent, the need to fight corruption takes the backseat, and solving more tangible problems becomes imperative.