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Assessing the Threat of Nexus Between Organized Crime and
Democratic Politics: Mapping the Factors
Assessing the Threat of Nexus Between Organized Crime and Democratic Politics: Mapping the Factors
Catalina Uribe Burcher
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In recent years, increased attention from the media, the international community and policy makers has highlighted the destabilizing effects criminal networks have on the legitimacy of democratic politics, as well as the capacity of democratic systems to deliver basic services. Indeed, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development highlighted in 2014 how illicit financial flows drain the state from resources needed to provide basic services (OECD, 2014). While this problem affects not only developing and fragile states, these countries are particularly affected as this phenomenon tends to exacerbate inequality (Briscoe, Perdomo & Uribe Burcher, 2014). Mapping the factors that make politics vulnerable to the influence of organized crime is a key element in the effort to implement adequate strategies to prevent and mitigate this phenomenon. This paper explores 21 threat factors identified, understood as some of the conditions that may contribute to the likelihood that political corruption linked to organized crime takes place. These threat factors underline institutional weaknesses—including those related to illicit political finance—and organized crime activities, which create opportunities for illicit networks to penetrate democratic political systems. The paper also discusses how these institutional weaknesses interrelate to specific criminal markets and networks. The paper draws from extensive desk research in 2015, which complements previous desk and field research on the same topic carried out in 2011-2014 in the Baltic States, Latin America and West Africa.
organized crime, political corruption, illicit networks, state fragility, political finance