'Generally, corruption constitutes a violation of ethical norms that are protected by law'.
Donatella Della Porta & Yves Meny Democracy & Corruption in Europe 1997 p. 7
Paul Heywood in 'Political Corruption: Problems and Perspectives' Political Studies Vol 45 1997 points out that defining political corruption relies on also being able to define uncorrupt politics - we cannot just refer to legal or to cultural norms.
Mark Philp offers the following definition in Routledge Enclyclopedia of Philosophy 2000
'Political corruption involves the decay or perversion of political rule. Broadly, this occurs when a group or individual subverts a society's publicly endorsed practices for conciliating conflicts and pursuing the common good so as to gain illegitimate advantage for their interests in the political process. The precise specification of the nature and dynamics of corruption is inherently controversial. Classical accounts associate it with a collapse of civic virtue and the eventual destruction of the state. Modern theories focus more narrowly on the misuse of public office for private gain.'
Transparency International, an organisation set up in 1993 to challenge political corruption, defines political corruption as
'the misuse of public power for private profit.'
Nihal Jayawickrama in Corruption--A Violation of Human Rights? TI Working Paper 1998 distinguishes between
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