I recently came across this post where prof. Michael Johnston defined relying on political will ‘magic thinking’ (actually he extended the same reasoning to the civil society).
Given my experience in high risk countries, I respectfully disagree with prof. Johnston. Whilst corruption is strictly connected to the human kind (it can happen everywhere and in every sector as non is actually immune) it cannot be denied that some countries are more exposed than others.
There is something that such ‘high risk countries’ have in common; systematic corruption as a consequence of weak institutions, and, consequently, political will.
In the private sector is very frequent coming across the expression ‘tone from the top’, which expresses the company’s commitment toward compliance at the highest level. On this regard the public sphere is no different; the fight against corruption requires commitment at government level and it cannot be left to the initiative of the bravest.
Does this mean that Governments are solely responsible for the fight against corruption? Absolutely not and there is where the civil society plays a major role. The civil society should not and cannot passively accept decisions taken on its behalf, vice versa, it has to push politics (and politicians) to be serious about anti-corruption.
For instance, early in 2017, thousands of Romanian citizens vigorously protested against the possibility to weaken their anti-corruption laws; 5 days after this idea was definitely left aside. This demonstrate that civil society can and must intervene when needed and it is not powerless.
Only this way, in my opinion, it is possible building a society in which ‘citizens can safely express and defend their interests.’ as prof. Johnston pointed out.