Germany likes to think it expects the utmost rectitude from political leaders. Not long ago, Berlin removed a sitting president from his mostly ceremonial office after it emerged he had received an interest-free loan from a wealthy friend a few years earlier.
By contrast, the United States allowed a tycoon to become president without him severing ties to his multinational business empire.
So it’s not surprising that Germany tends to do better than the US in Transparency International’s annual corruption report.
But the NGO’s most recent ranking didn’t exactly heap praise on Berlin. Germany retained the same score as last year in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) report, but slipped back two places and is now ranked 12th. Luxembourg and the UK improved their scores, and so took the two spots above it. “Those who only manage but don’t take new initiatives are in danger of falling behind internationally,” said Edda Müller, the boss of Transparency Germany.