The pejorative term “kleptocracy” is applied to a government tainted by widespread greed and corruption and headed by a person who has used the government for personal enrichment and gain. While the suffix “-ocracy” often implies a form of government, kleptocracies are not forms of government, but rather governments so fundamentally corrupt that they are difficult, if not impossible, to salvage.
Most commonly, this situation arises in authoritarian governments. Such governments lend themselves to corruption because there is little accountability and the head of the government usually appoints friends, family members, and close associates to key positions in the government in order to retain control. This sets up a ruling class, and with no accountability, members of the government can freely abuse government funds.
Get startedWikibuy compensates us when you install Wikibuy using the links we provided.
In a kleptocracy, most government revenues wind up in the hands of officials, and are not applied to public works projects, welfare, and other activities. Government agencies are often dysfunctional as a result of limited funding and being headed by people who lack qualifications. Aid organizations attempting to provide assistance in the country may be frustrated by seeing all the aid diverted for personal profit, with national leaders selling humanitarian aid to the highest bidder instead of allowing it to be distributed for the good of the populace.
Bribery is commonly necessary to accomplish tasks ranging from getting a building permit to opening a new business. The more money people have, the higher they can rise in the kleptocracy, by greasing the way with high ranking officials, and this in turn generates more money for them as they accept bribes and gifts from people fighting for a position in the government. It is not uncommon to see the justice system break down as people simply refuse to attend their own trials or bribe their way out of legal penalties.
For the average citizen, living in a kleptocracy can be marked with extreme hardship. Lacking clout and funding, people may have difficulty completing basic tasks. The lack of public services can result in problems like uncollected garbage, unpaved and poorly maintained roads, limited access to health care, and other issues. Citizens who protest government policy or attempt to draw attention to the problems with the government may become political prisoners and can face penalties like execution for treason. Free elections are usually not present in a kleptocracy and some nations may not even bother to hold sham elections, allowing leaders to remain in place for decades and to pass power on to their children.