966568 research-article2020 EUC0010.1177/1477370820966568European Journal of CriminologyCheliotis and Xenakis Special Issue: Human rights, prisons and penal policies What’s Left? Political orientation, economic conditions and incarceration in Greece under Syriza-led government European Journal of Criminology 2021, Vol. 18(1) 74­–100 © The Author(s) 2020 Article reuse guidelines: sagepub.com/journals-permissions https://doi.org/10.1177/1477370820966568 DOI: 10.1177/1477370820966568 journals.sagepub.com/home/euc Leonidas K. Cheliotis London School of Economics and Political Science, UK Sappho Xenakis Birkbeck, University of London, UK Abstract An important body of scholarly work has been produced over recent decades to explain variation in levels and patterns of state punishment across and within different countries around the world. Two variables that have curiously evaded systematic attention in this regard are, first, the orientation of incumbent governments along the political spectrum, and second, the experience and fiscal implications of national economic downturn. Although recent years have seen both variables receive somewhat greater consideration, there is still precious little research into the effects on state punishment that they have in interaction with one another. With a view to helping fill this gap in the literature, this article identifies the direction and assesses the extent of influence exerted by government political orientation, on the one hand, and by economic downturn alongside its fiscal repercussions, on the other hand, upon the evolution of incarceration in the context of contemporary Greece. In so doing, we offer a uniquely detailed account of carceral trends before and during the period that a coalition government led by the left-wing Syriza party was in power. With regard to carceral trends, the scope of our analysis extends beyond conventional imprisonment also to include immigration detention. As well as arguing that economic downturn can place crucial limits on a government’s ability to execute progressive plans in carceral matters, we additionally conclude that a government’s scope of action in this vein may be further restricted depending on the autonomy it can wield in defiance of foreign forces intervening in both economic and political realms. Corresponding author: Leonidas K. Cheliotis, Associate Professor of Criminology, Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, UK. Email: l.cheliotis@lse.ac.uk

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