Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-fnprw Total loading time: 0.309 Render date: 2022-08-09T22:56:06.106Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Distrust in Utopia? Public Perceptions of Corruption and Political Support in Iceland before and after the Financial Crisis of 2008

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2015

Abstract

In the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century Iceland was ranked as the least corrupt country in the world by Transparency International and enjoyed top positions in most comparative indices of governance and development. In 2008 the banking system collapsed and the country found itself in a serious financial crisis, a crisis which some observers believe was caused by clientelism and other forms of behaviour related to corruption. This article sets out to analyse how the crisis affected general political support and, in particular, the importance of perceptions of corruption in that process. Using survey data we show that political support plummeted after the crisis and that public evaluations of the extent of corruption became the most important determinant of support. The results have implications for how we ought to approach the issue of corruption, even in so-called ‘least corrupt’ settings. The findings also call into question the validity and reliability of frequently used measures of corruption and governance.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s). Published by Government and Opposition Limited and Cambridge University Press 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

*

Gissur Ó. Erlingsson is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Municipal Studies at Linköping University. Contact email: gissur.erlingsson@liu.se.

Jonas Linde is a Professor in the Department of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen. Contact email: jonas.linde@isp.uib.no.

Richard Öhrvall is a doctoral student in the Department of Management and Engineering at Linköping University and a Research Fellow at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Stockholm. Contact email: richard.ohrvall@liu.se.

References

Aarts, K. and Thomassen, J. (2008), ‘Satisfaction with Democracy: Do Institutions Matter?’, Electoral Studies, 27(1): 518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anderson, C.J. and Tverdova, Y.V. (2003), ‘Corruption, Political Allegiances, and Attitudes toward Government in Contemporary Democracies’, American Journal of Political Science, 47(1): 91109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Andersson, S. and Heywood, P. (2009), ‘The Politics of Perceptions: Use and Abuse of Transparency International’s Approach to Measuring Corruption’, Political Studies, 57(4): 746767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Booth, J.A. and Seligson, M.A. (2009), The Legitimacy Puzzle in Latin America: Political Support and Democracy in Eight Nations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Curini, L. (2010), Satisfaction with Democracy and the Winner–Loser Debate: The Role of Policy Preferences and Past Experience, Working Paper 03/2010 (Milan: Dipartimento di Studi Socili e Politici, Universita degli Studi di Milano).Google Scholar
Dalton, R.J. (2004), Democratic Challenges, Democratic Choices: The Erosion of Political Support in Advanced Industrial Democracies (Oxford: Oxford University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Doorenspleet, R. (2012), ‘Critical Citizens, Democratic Support and Satisfaction in African Democracies’, International Political Science Review, 33(3): 279300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Easton, D. (1965), A Systems Analysis of Political Life (New York: John Wiley and Sons).Google Scholar
Easton, D. (1975), ‘A Re-assessment of the Concept of Political Support’, British Journal of Political Science, 5(4): 435457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Erlingsdóttir, I. (2009), ‘Iceland: The Nordic Zimbabwe’, Washington Post, 5 January.Google Scholar
Erlingsson, G.Ó., Linde, J. and Öhrvall, R. (2014), ‘Not so Fair After All? Perceptions of Procedural Fairness and Satisfaction with Democracy in the Nordic Welfare States’, International Journal of Public Administration, 37(2): 106119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Esaiasson, P. (2010), ‘Will Citizens take No for an Answer? What Government Officials Can Do to Enhance Decision Acceptance’, European Political Science Review, 2: 351371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eythórsson, G. and Kowalczyk, M. (2013), ‘Explaining the Low Voter Turnout in Iceland’s 2010 Local Government Elections’, Samtíð, 1: 114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eythórsson, G., Gylfason, T. and Jahn, D. (2011), Sustainable Governance Indicators 2011: Iceland Report (Gütershloh: Bertelsmann Schtiftung).Google Scholar
Fieschi, C. and Heywood, P. (2004), ‘Trust, Cynicism and Populist Anti-Politics’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 9(3): 289309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fuchs, D. (2007), ‘The Political Culture Paradigm’, in R.J. Dalton and H.-D. Klingemann (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 161184.Google Scholar
Galbreath, D.J. and Rose, R. (2008), ‘Fair Treatment in a Divided Society: A Bottom-up Assessment of Bureaucratic Encounters in Latvia’, Governance, 21(1): 5373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Global Corruption Barometer (2010/11; 2007) (Berlin: Transparency International).Google Scholar
The Guardian (2008), ‘No Wonder Iceland Has the Happiest People on Earth’, The Guardian, 18 May.Google ScholarPubMed
Gylfason, T. (2014), Iceland: How Could this Happen?, CESifo Working Paper No. 4605 (Munich: Ifo Institute, Centre for Economic Studies).Google Scholar
Heidenheimer, A.J. and Johnston, M. (2002) (eds), Political Corruption: Concepts and Contexts (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers).Google Scholar
Heywood, P. (1997), ‘Political Corruption: Problems and Perspectives’, Political Studies, 45(3): 417435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Heywood, P. and Rose, J. (2014), ‘“Close but no Cigar”: The Measurement of Corruption’, Journal of Public Policy, published early online, April, doi:10.1017/S0143814X14000099.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jain, A.K. (2001), ‘Corruption: A Review’, Journal of Economic Surveys, 15(1): 71121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnson, J.E., Einarsdóttir, Þ and Pétursdóttir, G.M. (2013), ‘A Feminist Theory of Corruption: Lessons from Iceland’, Politics & Gender, 9: 174206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnston, M. (2005), Syndromes of Corruption: Wealth, Power, and Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Klingemann, H.-D. (1999), ‘Mapping Political Support in the 1990s: A Global Analysis’, in P. Norris (ed.), Critical Citizens: Global Support for Democratic Governance (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 3156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kristinsson, G.H. (2012), ‘Party Patronage in Iceland: Rewards and Control Appointments’, in P. Kopecky, P. Mair and M. Spirova (eds), Party Patronage and Party Government in European Democracies (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 186205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Leigh, A. and Wolfers, J. (2006), ‘Happiness and the Human Development Index: Australia is not a Paradox’, Australian Economic Review, 39(2): 176184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Linde, J. (2012), ‘Why Feed the Hand that Bites You? Perceptions of Procedural Fairness and System Support in Post-Communist Democracies’, European Journal of Political Research 51(3): 410434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Linde, J. and Ekman, J. (2003), ‘Satisfaction with Democracy: A Note on a Frequently Used Indicator in Comparative Politics’, European Journal of Political Research, 42(3): 391408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Linde, J. and Erlingsson, G.Ó. (2013), ‘The Eroding Effect of Corruption on System Support in Sweden’, Governance, 26(4): 585603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lipset, S.M. (1960), Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company).Google Scholar
Manzetti, L. and Wilson, C.J. (2007), ‘Why Do Corrupt Governments Maintain Public Support?’, Comparative Political Studies, 40(8): 949970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Montinola, G.R. and Jackman, R.W. (2002), ‘Sources of Corruption: A Cross-Country Study’, British Journal of Political Science, 32(1): 147170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Newton, K. (1999), ‘Social and Political Trust in Established Democracies’, in P. Norris (ed.), Critical Citizens: Global Support for Democratic Governance (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 169187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nord, L. and Shehata, A. (2013), Finanskrisen, förväntningarna och förtroendet (Sundsvall: DEMICON, Mid-Sweden University).Google Scholar
Norris, P. (1997), ‘Representation and the Democratic Deficit’, European Journal of Political Research, 32(2): 273282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Norris, P. (1999), ‘Introduction: The Growth of Critical Citizens?’, in P. Norris (ed.), Critical Citizens: Global Support for Democratic Governance (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Norris, P. (2011), Democratic Deficit: Critical Citizens Revisited (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Oscarsson, H. (2010), ‘Mutor och korruption’, in S. Holmberg and L. Weibull (eds), Nordiskt ljus (Gothenburg: SOM-institutet): 225260.Google Scholar
Oscarsson, H. and Holmberg, S. (2011), The Eight Party Election: The 2010 Election Study (Stockholm: Statistics Sweden).Google Scholar
Önnudóttir, E.H. and Harðarson, Ó.Þ. (2011), ‘Policy Performance and Satisfaction with Democracy’, Stjórnmál & Stjórnsýsla, 7(2): 417436.Google Scholar
Rose, R., Mishler, W. and Haerpfer, C. (1998), Democracy and its Alternatives: Understanding Post-Communist Societies (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press).Google Scholar
Rothstein, B. and Holmberg, S. (2012) (eds), Good Government: The Relevance of Political Science (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar).Google Scholar
Rothstein, B. and Teorell, J. (2008), ‘What is Quality of Government? A Theory of Impartial Government Institutions’, Governance, 21(2): 165190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Seligson, M.A. (2002a), ‘Trouble in Paradise? The Erosion of System Support in Costa Rica, 1978–1999’, Latin American Research Review, 37(1): 160185.Google Scholar
Seligson, M.A. (2002b), ‘The Impact of Corruption on Regime Legitimacy: A Comparative Study of Four Latin American Countries’, Journal of Politics, 64(2): 408433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Seligson, M.A. and Muller, E.N. (1987), ‘Democratic Stability and Economic Crisis: Costa Rica, 1978–1983’, International Studies Quarterly, 31(3): 301326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sung, H.-E. (2004), ‘Democracy and Political Corruption: A Cross-National Comparison’, Crime, Law & Social Change, 41(2): 179194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
The Telegraph (2009), ‘Iceland Corruption Investigator Joly May Quit in Frustration’, The Telegraph, 11 June.Google Scholar
Tyler, T.R. (2006), Why People Obey the Law (Princeton: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
Tyler, T.R., Casper, J.D. and Fisher, B. (1989), ‘Maintaining Allegiance toward Political Authorities: The Role of Prior Attitudes and the Use of Fair Procedures’, American Journal of Political Science, 33(3): 629652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
United Nations (2008), Human Development Report 2007/2008 (New York: United Nations).Google Scholar
Vaiman, V., Sigurjónsson, T.O. and Davídsson, P.Á. (2011), ‘Weak Business Culture as an Antecedent of Economic Crisis: The Case of Iceland’, Journal of Business Ethics, 98(2): 259272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Viken, B. (2011), ‘The Birth of a System Born to Collapse: Laissez-faire the Icelandic Way’, European Political Science, 10: 312323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Villoria, M., Van Ryzin, G.G. and Lavena, C.F. (2012), ‘Social and Political Consequences of Administrative Corruption: The Case of Spain’, Public Administration Review, 73(1): 8594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wade, R. and Sigurgeirsdottir, S. (2010), ‘Lessons from Iceland’, New Left Review, 65: 529.Google Scholar
Wagner, A.F., Schneider, F. and Halla, M. (2009), ‘The Quality of Institutions and Satisfaction with Democracy in Western Europe: A Panel Analysis’, European Journal of Political Economy, 25(1): 3041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
9
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Distrust in Utopia? Public Perceptions of Corruption and Political Support in Iceland before and after the Financial Crisis of 2008
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Distrust in Utopia? Public Perceptions of Corruption and Political Support in Iceland before and after the Financial Crisis of 2008
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Distrust in Utopia? Public Perceptions of Corruption and Political Support in Iceland before and after the Financial Crisis of 2008
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *