Iceland’s Financial Crisis : The Politics of Blame, Protest, and Reconstruction book cover
1st Edition

Iceland’s Financial Crisis
The Politics of Blame, Protest, and Reconstruction

ISBN 9781138669741
Published July 11, 2016 by Routledge
294 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Being the first casualty of the international financial crisis, Iceland was, in many ways, turned into a laboratory when it came to responding to one of the largest corporate failures on record.

This edited volume offers the most wide-ranging treatment of the Icelandic financial crisis and its political, economic, social, and constitutional consequences. Interdisciplinary, with contributions from historians, economists, sociologists, legal scholars, political scientists and philosophers, it also compares and contrasts the Icelandic experience with other national and global crises. It examines the economic magnitude of the crisis, the social and political responses, and the unique transitional justice mechanisms used to deal with it. It looks at backward-looking elements, including a societal and legal reckoning – which included the indictment of a Prime Minister and jailing of leading bankers for their part in the financial crisis – and forward-looking features, such as an attempt to rewrite the Icelandic constitution. Throughout, it underscores the contemporary relevance of the Icelandic case. While the Icelandic economic recovery has been much quicker than expected; it shows that public faith in political elites has not been restored.

This text will be of key interest to scholars, policy-makers and students of the financial crisis in such fields as European politics, international political economy, comparative politics, sociology, economics, contemporary history, and more broadly the social sciences and humanities.

Table of Contents


Valur Ingimundarson, Philippe Urfalino, and Irma Erlingsdóttir

Part I

The Road to Economic Disaster

1. Iceland’s Financial Crisis: An Economic Perspective

Gylfi Zoega

2. The Rise and Fall of a Financial Empire: Looking at the Banking Collapse from the Inside Out

Gudrun Johnsen

3. The Political Economy of Iceland’s Boom and Bust

Stefán Ólafsson

Part II

The Political and Societal Responses to the Crisis

4. Political Opportunity, Framing, and Mobilization in Iceland’s Post-Crash Protests

Jón Gunnar Bernburg and Anna Soffía Víkingsdóttir

5. Contentious Politics, Political Expediency, and the Real Costs of the Icesave Debt

Helga Kristín Hallgrímsdóttir and Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly

6. Democratic Practices, Governance, and the Financial Crash

Vilhjálmur Árnason

7. The Politics of Transition, Memory, and Justice: Assigning Blame for the Crisis

Valur Ingimundarson

8. The Strategy of Redistribution: Iceland’s Way Out of the Crisis

Stefán Ólafsson

Part III

The Politics of Iceland’s Constitutional Reform

9. Icelandic Constitution-Making in Comparative Perspective

Jon Elster 

10. Constitution on Ice

Thorvaldur Gylfason

11. Constitutional Revision: A Weak Legislative Framework Compounded by Political Disputes

Salvör Nordal

12. Constituent Power and Authorization: Anatomy and Failure of a Constitution-Making Process

Pasquale Pasquino

13. The Constitutional Council: Objectives and Shortcomings of an Innovative Process

Björg Thorarensen

14. The Constituent Assembly: A Study in Failure

Jón Ólafsson

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Valur Ingimundarson is Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Iceland and the Chair of the Board of the EDDA – Center of Excellence.

Philippe Urfalino is Senior Researcher at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), France.

Irma Erlingsdóttir is Associate Professor of French Contemporary Literature at the University of Iceland and Director of EDDA – Center of Excellence; the United Nations University Gender Equality Studies and Training Programme (UNU-GEST); and Institute for Gender, Equality and Difference (RIKK), University of Iceland.


This volume will be useful for anyone interested in delving further into the case of the financial crisis in Iceland. Its range of contributions provide interdisciplinary depth, inviting readers from various disciplines to consider the crisis from angles that might extend beyond familiar terrain.

Reviewed by Alyssa Maraj Grahame, Bowdoin College