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Crisis and Punishment? Explaining Politicians' Appetite for Retribution in Post-Crisis Europe

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This article investigates the politics of holding bank executives accountable for banking crises. The post-2008 financial crisis was characterized by a significant variation in the endorsement of retributive justice. While some countries established special prosecutorial bodies and facilitated prosecutions, others relied on the existing prosecutorial mechanisms to seek out wrongdoing. The comparative experience of Iceland and Cyprus shows that the unfolding of the crisis shapes the appetite of politicians for retributive justice. With a banking collapse, politicians will be most proactive, as voters' demand for justice is high and the risks for the banking industry are minimal. With a severe yet negotiated crisis following a bailout/bail-in, politicians are more reluctant to endorse policies that may risk the recovery of the fragile banking sector.
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Keywords: ACCOUNTABILITY; GREAT RECESSION; PROSECUTIONS; WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2021

This article was made available online on October 30, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Crisis and Punishment? Explaining Politicians’ Appetite for Retribution in Post-Crisis Europe".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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