Criminal Networks and Their Influence in Democratic Systems -Baltic States Examples


In recent years, increased attention from the media, the international community and policy makers has highlighted the destabilizing effects criminal networks have on the perceived legitimacy of democratic politics. This is not only a problem for rough and fragile States in Latin America and West Africa, but also an increasing phenomenon in Europe and other regions. The recent EU anti-corruption report highlighted that in Europe, ‘there were cases in which some organised crime leaders at municipality level established their own political parties or infiltrated municipal councils to exert influence over local law enforcement or judiciary’. However, there are few known examples that illustrate how these nexus between organized crime and politicians are forged and maintained. Such knowledge is key to enhance national and regional policy responses to the challenges posed by transnational illicit networks. Drawing for extensive field research conducted in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania recently published in the report ‘Illicit Networks and Politics in the Baltic States’, this presentation explores how the influence of criminal networks in the democratic system affects the capacity of the security apparatus, the judiciary and the media to operate. The presentation also discusses how these relations distort the whole political spectrum, from the political parties’ ability to monitor and control their members’ ethical behavior, to the capacity to hold elections free from vote-buying and intimidation, and ultimately to the state’s ability to provide its basic functions, such as security, justice, and development.

Author Information
Catalina Uribe Burcher, International IDEA, Sweden

Paper Information
Conference: ECPEL2014
Stream: Politics – Governance

This paper is part of the ECPEL2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon