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Game theory casts an ethically neutral light on political corruption. But it is helpful for anyone who wishes to solve such a serious problem pragmatically. In a situation of widespread corruption such as the Italian one in the wake of the "Clean Hands" operation, a series of perverse, self-perpetuating norms comes into being, creating a set-up from which some at least would like to escape, but inside which they are instead forced to remain. That is, an implicit norm emerges from which no one has interest in deviating. Game theory says that to escape the legislator can choose between two strategies. The first involves introducing external and coercive norms designed to change the system of incentives and to induce individuals into non-counterproductive conduct. The second consists of creating – through market mechanisms, privatisations, rules for political and administrative turnovers – a social and economic environment in which non-written norms conducive to corruption are much less likely to appear.