Parliamentary Inquiries: an Underestimated Anticorruption Tool

In: International Journal of Parliamentary Studies
Tilman Hoppe Former advisor for inquiry committees, Deutscher Bundestag, Berlin, Germany

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Juan Ticona Former advisor for an inquiry committee, Deutscher Bundestag, Berlin, Germany,

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In countries with high levels of corruption, ruling elites rarely have an interest in meaningful anticorruption reforms. Thus, within state structures, the opposition is often key in controlling the government. At the same time, no state body has wider jurisdiction than parliament. Therefore, empowering the opposition to inquire into corruption (and other) scandals is a key factor in an integrity system. The German system of strong opposition rights in collecting evidence through parliamentary inquiry committees has been a unique selling point by global comparison until 2014, when it was emulated by Austria. An analysis of the 63 inquiry committees of the Bundestag since 1949 shows that a significant share concerned corruption cases. Had it not been for parliamentary inquiries, most of these cases would have remained without any follow-up by a state institution. In stark contrast to this finding, international anticorruption guidance more or less entirely ignores inquiry committees.

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