Why are some states more corrupt than others? More specifically, why is post-communist Romania significantly more corrupt than post-communist Hungary even though both transitioned to democracy from USSR satellite states in 1989 and both went on to enter the European Union? This paper argues that though the implementation of communism in political institutions at the time of transition cannot serve as an explanatory factor, Romania’s patrimonial pre-communist history developed a foundation of corruption and the lack of turnover in political leadership during the transition from communism to democracy played a critical role in continuing this corrupt pre-communist foundation. Conversely, Hungary featured a theme of political turnover throughout its pre-communist past, communist past and also in its leadership into democracy, which allowed it to avoid a cultural foundation of corruption. Moreover, international institutions such as the European Union had the opportunity to promote an anti-corruption platform in Romania, yet the EU had is own problematic institutions.

First Advisor

Patrick O'Neil

Second Advisor

Karl Fields

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Government

Date of Award

Spring 4-18-2016


Political Science