A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Holuhraun, still spewing lava. Bárðarbunga, still sinking.

Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (“The Independence Party”) Interviewed

Published April 8, 2013


1.     Briefly describe your party’s general agenda in one sentence.
The Independence Party (IP) believes in the freedom of the individual and equal opportunity for all in the pursuit of liberty and progress in society.
2.     Tell us about your party. What’s it all about? Does it have a history? Are you proud of that history?
The IP has a long history of which its members are very proud. The party was founded on May 25, 1929 through the merger of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party. It is the largest political movement in Iceland. The party was a strong force in the fight for independence, which Iceland gained in 1944, and a strong force in transforming the country from being one of the poorest in Europe to one of most prosperous. The Party has been a member of 22 of the 31 governments that have governed since the Party was created, and led 15 of those governments. Therefore, the IP has played an important role in the progressive history of this country in the last 84 years. It has supported international trade and both Icelandic and Western values.
3.     Is there a foreign sister party that you identify with, one that international readers might identify with?
In Europe, there is no example of liberals and conservatives joining forces as a single party, as we have done. Nonetheless, the IP has joined conferences and European unions of conservatives on many occasions.
4.     What do you consider the most important issue facing Iceland today? How about the most important issue to consider in this election?
Our party’s issues are focused on strengthening the economy by lowering taxes on individuals and companies, thereby lowering the cost of production, imported goods and gasoline. The most important issue in this election is about rejuvenating the economy.
5.     What do you admire about the current coalition government and what it accomplished in the last four years? What do you dislike? What will you do better?
There is nothing to admire about the current coalition government. The last four years have been years of lost opportunities and unnecessary conflict. The IP’s goal is to bring stability and get the wheels of industry moving again. The welfare of the people is based on a sound and stable economy.
6.     Was the financial crisis in 2008 and the problems Iceland now faces in some way caused by government policy and action or the lack thereof? Is your party in some way responsible for this? Why or why not?
The financial crisis of 2008 was an international meltdown of the banking sector. There isn’t any government policy that could have averted the meltdown. It’s easy to look back and try to point to things that could have been done differently. Almost all of the party’s leaders in power at the time have left politics and our focus is now to rebuild for the future.
7.     Specifically, how do you plan to bring Iceland back to economic prosperity?
We plan to focus on the economy. We plan to lower business payroll taxes to increase employment. We plan to lower tariffs and customs fees to encourage trade. We plan to lower income tax so that individuals and companies have more opportunity to invest and grow the economy; leaving more money in the pockets of the individual will encourage spending and investment. But either way, it will fuel the economy. We will meet with labour unions and employers and bring much needed stability to the economy.
8.     Do you want to weaken, strengthen or keep unchanged the regulation of the financial industry and other business activity in Iceland?
The regulation of the financial industry should not be weakened. It should be kept unchanged, or strengthened.
9.     Do you plan to increase or decrease the total tax burden in Iceland?
The tax burden should be decreased.
10.   Do you believe in the Icelandic króna? Or will you work to adopt an alternative currency? If so, which one?

At the moment the Icelandic króna should be kept as our currency.
11.   Do you support the newly passed law removing an expiration date from Iceland’s capital controls? Will your party work to lift these controls? Does it have a timeframe in mind?
Yes. Abolishing capital controls is important for the future of economic growth. The Independence Party will work toward lifting these controls in a matter of months rather than years.
12.   Do you believe that the collapse was more than an economic one? If so, what else failed in 2008 and does it still need fixing?
The collapse was first and foremost an international banking collapse. Hundreds of banks all over the world collapsed from 2008 and into 2010. The unique situation of Iceland was the fact that all of our banks were overexposed and fragile. We must ensure that private risk will never again be covered by public funds.
13.   How can the government best serve Icelandic homes?
The government can help by strengthening the economy and increasing opportunities. Icelandic homes that still carry the burden of the crisis of 2008 should be helped through the tax system and by lowering the capital of loans that have increased as a result of indexing and inflation.
14.   What is your stance on Iceland’s application to the European Union? Do you ultimately think Icelanders’ interests would be best served by being part of this coalition?
Iceland should not join the European Union.
15.   What is your stance on the new constitution that was called for in the wake of Iceland’s financial crisis? Are you for or against pushing the current draft through parliament? Why or why not?
The Constitution is a living document and there are parts that can be improved, but the IP does not support a revolution of the constitution.
16.   Will your party do something to protect the land and its resources? Is a more stringent regulative framework needed to ensure conservation of the environment?
The regulations to protect the land and its resources are supported by the Independence Party. A more stringent regulative framework is not currently needed.
17.   Is gender equality a problem in Iceland? If so, what does your plan to do to ensure equality?
Gender equality is not a big problem in Iceland, relative to most countries in the world. Iceland is in fact one of the best countries in the world to be a woman, according to international surveys.
18.   Where do you stand on immigration issues?
Without a doubt, immigrants have a lot to offer Icelandic society by increasing diversity and enriching daily life in Iceland. In addition, immigrants bring their education and experience with them into the workforce. Immigrants, or ‘New Icelanders,’ are not a homogenous group any more than other inhabitants of this land.
19.   Does your party harbour any ideas about the role of religion in governance?
Religion plays no role in governance. The Independence Party emphasizes the importance of freedom of religion.
20.   Are there any parties that your party will not work with in a coalition government? Why?
No.



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