IRI is focusing most of its work in Bulgaria on fighting political corruption. IRI’s programming in the country is aimed at combatting corrupt practices that weaken Bulgaria’s ability to deliver for its citizens.

Anti-Corruption Protest In Bulgaria

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index consistently ranks Bulgaria as the most corrupt EU member state. Though municipal corruption generally receives less media attention than national corruption scandals, it is a profound and constant concern for the country. The most recent comprehensive assessment of municipal corruption comes via Transparency International–Bulgaria’s 2017 Local Integrity System Index, which found a lack of transparency and the flouting of ethical guidelines and anticorruption mechanisms in key local government bodies such as mayors’ offices and municipal councils. Few civil society organizations or journalists are able to hold municipal governments accountable for corruption. Municipal corruption has undermined city governments, resulting in cases of massive, and wasteful, government spending and the perception among local businesspeople that corruption is endemic.

IRI is using analysis to run a municipal anticorruption program designed to provide a detailed understanding of where specific vulnerabilities lie. The program also aims to build a consensus among government and non-government leaders on recognizing those vulnerabilities. IRI will then push for political will for reform among municipal and national political leaders. This will be accomplished by publishing IRI’s Vulnerabilities to Corruption Assessment (VCA) findings, in hopes of creating public demand for reform and encouraging municipalities to promote virtuous anti-corruption competition. IRI will then conduct public opinion polling and help with town halls, in order to convey demand for change. IRI will use its relationships with political leaders to convene an anti-corruption conference. IRI will also support peer-to-peer learning, including linking Bulgarian officials with their counterparts in other EU member states. Finally, IRI will join municipal working groups, comprised of both government and non-government leaders, to address the VCA findings.  

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