The absence of accountability on political funding and bribing people for votes are the root causes of political corruption in Latin America, according to a study by Transparency International.
One in four citizens in the region has been offered bribes in exchange for votes at national, regional or local elections in the past five years. In several countries, citizens are also threatened with retaliation if they don’t vote in a particular way.
When it comes to buying votes, Mexico leads the other countries. One in two people in Mexico was offered a bribe for a vote and one in four was threatened with retaliation.
In the Dominican Republic, 46% of citizens experience vote-buying, while in Brazil and Colombia, that rate is 40%. There are very few cases of vote-buying in the Caribbean countries of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Jamaica, the report noted.
Most of the respondents in the survey stated that they regard the offices of the President and Prime Minister, as well as Members of Parliament, as the most corrupt institutions.
In Brazil, fake news clouds the electoral scene, leaving citizens confused as to which candidate they can trust.
During the last presidential elections, hundreds of messages with misleading and discriminating content were spread through social media groups, says Transparency International.
Whatsapp is a very powerful tool in Brazil and those who successfully spread messages on this platform can influence the electoral results.
“In the 2018 national elections, the tactics of spreading ‘fake news’ was reportedly used by campaigners for President Jair Bolsonaro to discredit political opponents,” the report added.
To eradicate political corruption, governments must reform campaign finance regulations and create a transparent environment for elections, the agency has recommended.