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Fighting Corruption in Greece

+ Brandon Fuller

A crisis affords unique opportunities for reform, but a crisis of governance present an unusual dilemma: How can people trust that crisis-prone agencies will reform themselves? The recent cases of police reform in New Orleans and anti-corruption efforts in Greece illustrate the challenge of internal reform. Dysfunctional police departments and corruption plagued governments will always find it difficult to credibly commit to change. In both cases, political leaders can draw on their external allies to avoid the hazards of internal reform.

The mayor and community groups in New Orleans adopted this strategy when they recruited the federal Justice Department to help overhaul their police department. The overhaul will begin with a comprehensive review that leads to a legally binding agreement for reform — reform that will be overseen by the Justice Department rather than the police force itself or locally elected leaders.

Paul recently wrote an oped in the Financial Times suggesting that Greece draw on the European Union (EU) in much the same way that the city of New Orleans drew on the Justice Department. By leveraging its membership in the EU, Greece can decisively tackle corruption and make itself a far more attractive place to do business.

For a more detailed description of the proposal, see Paul’s policy brief at Stanford or

For many, corruption and political cronyism are seen as an inevitable part of Greek politics. This column argues that the same could have been said in the 1970s about Hong Kong, now a beacon of low corruption. Hong Kong managed this turnaround by appointing a non-elected governor accountable to the UK government. Greece could achieve the same by calling on the EU and start counting the benefits.

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