Toothless but Forceful: Slovenia's Anti-Corruption Watchdog Exposes Systemic Graft, 2004-2013

Focus Area(s): 
Getting the News Out/Managing Expectations
Anti-Corruption
Critical Tasks: 
Anti-corruption agencies
Building inter-agency cooperation
Enforcement
Establishing independence
Investigation or referral
Legal structure
Monitoring
Organization and staffing
Prevention
Core Challenge: 
Institutional traps (spoilers)
Country of Reform: 
Slovenia
Type: 
Case Studies
Author: 
Gabriel Kuris
Full Publication 
Abstract: 
When Slovenia became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991, the Central European country rapidly transitioned to free-market democracy, with strong institutions and low levels of graft. In 2004, the government established the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption to demonstrate its commitment to good governance during the application process for European Union membership. However, the new watchdog body, which had no official enforcement powers, soon faced deeper challenges than it was equipped to handle. It found that political and business leaders had colluded to profit from Slovenia’s prolonged and underregulated privatization process, undermining the economy and diminishing public trust. Leveraging its moral authority and limited powers, the commission undertook investigations and released advisory opinions that spotlighted public corruption and the systemic flaws that enabled it. By outfoxing political opposition and developing innovative uses for its investigative powers, the commission and its partner institutions helped spark a nationwide anti-corruption movement. In early 2013, public protests toppled a prime minister the commission found had been in violation of campaign finance rules, and Slovenia’s struggle against corruption reached a turning point.
 
Gabriel Kuris drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in November 2012. Case published April 2013.
Keywords: 
Anti-Corruption
anti-corruption agency
EU
GRECO
privatization
postcommunist
KPK
CPC
advisory opinion
Janez Jansa
corruption prevention
corruption investigation