Why There Is No Swedish Rod Blagojevich

December 18, 2008

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A tape laden with f-bombs and a U.S. senate seat for sale. Cash packed into a freezer. In the last few years, Americans have watched politician after politician go down in flames. Look no further than our last two governors and political insiders like Tony Rezko and Stuart Levine. These days, it seems like Illinois gives corrupt countries a run for their (dirty) money.

Given the spate of bad seeds, it's perhaps heartening to know that other places conduct politics differently. For a breath of fresh air, we take a look at squeaky-clean Sweden. Along with its Scandinavian neighbors, Sweden consistently ranks among the least corrupt countries in the world.

To understand what makes Sweden virtually immune to bribery and graft, we called Nicholas Charron. He's an American researcher at the Quality of Government Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. According to Charron, it starts with Swedish history and something called janta law.

(To find out where the United States and other countries rank, check out wathdog group Transparency International's 2008 Index of Corruption Perceptions Index.)