Political trust in Iceland: Performance or politics?


  • Sjöfn Vilhelmsdóttir
  • Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson




Political trust, government performance, party identification, financial crisis, economic crash, Iceland.


Economic performance has a well-known relationship to political trust. If the economy is perceived as performing well, the levels of political trust are likely to improve. During the 2008 economic crash in Iceland, this relationship seemed vindicated once more. Political trust in Iceland fell from very high to medium levels. Paradoxically, strong indicators of good economic performance after the crash have not been reflected in similarly strong indicators of greater political trust. Thus, while the economy has recovered, political trust has not followed suit to a comparable degree. To account for this discrepancy, we analyse the data on political trust in Iceland before and after the crash. Our findings indicate that while the economy is important in generating political trust, improved economic performance does not account for the whole scenario. The political impact of the crisis remains an obstacle to re-establishing political trust to previous levels, as identifying with a party in the government fails to contribute to political trust in the previous manner. Similarly, personal experience of the crisis may have created a sense of alienation among age cohorts that were particularly affected by the crash and the subsequent economic recession.

Author Biographies

Sjöfn Vilhelmsdóttir

PhD student, University of Iceland.

Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson

Professor, University of Iceland.




How to Cite

Vilhelmsdóttir, S., & Kristinsson, G. H. (2018). Political trust in Iceland: Performance or politics?. Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 14(1), 211–234. https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2018.14.1.10

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