WASHINGTON, June 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Worldwide, many citizens have little faith in the integrity of national politicians, ranking them as the most corrupt institutional group followed by the police and local government bureaucrats, a survey showed on Tuesday.
In almost half of the 102 countries polled by the Washington-based World Justice Project (WJP), members of parliament or congress were ranked as the most corrupt institutional group.
The police were cited as most corrupt in 32 countries and local government officials in 12. Together, the countries surveyed represent 90 percent of the global population.
"To find that in most countries peoples' perceptions of corruption are centered around national politicians rather than local officials is a surprise," said Juan Botero, executive director of the independent research group.
The results were part of the WJP's wide-ranging annual Rule of Law index, which measures how the rule of law is experienced in everyday life based on nine factors including fundamental rights, order and security, and absence of corruption.
Denmark ranked top of the Rule of Law index, followed by Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands.
Bottom of the list were Venezuela, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, the same as in 2014. Cambodia was fourth from the bottom this year, falling from 91st place in 2014, and Pakistan was ranked again as fifth from the bottom.
Turkey showed the greatest deterioration in the rule of law, falling to 80th place in the 2015 index from 59th last year.
Fewer checks on government power and a decline in freedom of the press and assembly were among the factors accounting for its lower ranking, WJP said.
Governance experts say confidence in political leadership is crucial in building just and equitable societies.
"Effective rule of law helps reduce corruption, alleviate poverty, improve public health and education, and protect people from injustices and dangers large and small," said William H. Neukom, WJP founder and CEO in a statement.
"Wherever we come from, the rule of law can always be strengthened."
A U.N. global online survey taken by 7.5 million people to date put "an honest and responsive government" as the fourth priority behind a good education, better healthcare and better job opportunities.
The result has providing momentum for anti-corruption measures to be included in new development goals that world leaders are set to adopt in September, campaigners say.
Reporting by Stella Dawson; Editing by Katie Nguyen