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Opinion
A Watergate Of Our Own

A Watergate Of Our Own

Published February 27, 2012

The Watergate scandal was both a low point and a high point in American politics. The downside was that the President turned out to be a crook. The upside was that it showed that no one was above the law, not even the President himself.
Nixon was forced to resign in 1974, but the results were not as one might have hoped. Bright young people did not rush into politics to prove that they could do a better job than Nixon did. Instead, people who wanted change seemed to have largely lost faith in the system. Arguably, American politics never recovered, leading to Reagan, the Bushes, the Tea Party and (God help us) Newt Gingrich. Perhaps Ford’s decision to pardon Nixon as soon as he succeeded to office played a major part in this disillusionment. The former President, it turned out, was above the law after all.
THE RESULTS OF A REVOLUTION
Much the same now seems to be taking place in Iceland. The economic collapse in 2008 laid the flaws of the crony-based Icelandic political system bare. Many rushed to the streets to demand change, others wrote columns, blogs, even books, made comments, analysed and tried their best to understand what had happened. Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde was forced out of office along with the government he presided over, but change has been slow in coming.
A committee was set up by Parliament to find out the roots of the collapse. The findings were seen as authoritative and laid the blame equally on the political and financial systems. Eventually, the MPs themselves were forced to act, voting on whether to indict four of its own members, two from the Alliance Party and two from the Independence Party, including the former PM himself.
THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT…
The results of the vote were a disappointment to anyone expecting change. Parliament failed to rise above its squabbles, largely voting along party lines. The result was that only one man, the former Prime Minister, was indicted. This made it easier for Geir’s supporters to portray the indictment as politically motivated.
Nevertheless, he was undeniably the man in charge in the years leading up to the collapse, and if someone was to be held accountable, it seemed reasonable to start with Geir Haarde. Even more importantly, the trial would force many of the most powerful people in Iceland to take the stand, and this in itself might force much valuable information on the reasons for the collapse out into the open.
…OR MAYBE NOT
Of course, much of this information would be sensitive, if not downright incriminating, for many of those still in Parliament. Small wonder then that Independence Party Chairman Bjarni Benediktsson recently put forth a motion to suspend the trial. This requires a double vote, first on whether his motion is to be submitted to a vote, and then the vote itself. So far, Parliament has voted in favour of putting his suggestion to a vote. Whether they then will vote in favour of suspending the trial, remains to be seen.
What is clear, however, is that if Parliament votes to shield the former Prime Minister from accountability, then this will lead to further disillusionment with the political system as a whole. Our elected leaders will have proven to be truly above the law, and those desiring change will want nothing to do with such a system. Perhaps this is exactly what the Independence Party is counting on, for it is the best way to make sure that nothing will truly change.   



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Opinion
Nativity

Nativity

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Now we approach the time of year when countries within the Schengen zone commemorate the asylum seekers María and Jósef, who once upon a time travelled from place to place without proper travel documents and were turned down everywhere on the basis of the Dublin regulation. No one really knew what they were fleeing from. As the couple found themselves in Reykjavík, Iceland, María was expectant. Authorities doubted if Jósef was the expected child’s biological father. Why would she travel with him at all, officials wondered, finding it all highly suspicious. One night, without prior notice, hired thugs in uniform

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Opinion
Reykjavík Forces Its Music Schools Into Bankruptcy

Reykjavík Forces Its Music Schools Into Bankruptcy

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As you may have heard, Icelandic music teachers recently ended a five-week long strike. The music teachers’ strike was caused by a wage dispute. It was resolved when Icelandic authorities promised music teachers wages equal to those enjoyed by other teachers in Iceland. Now that these demands have been met—even if only to certain degree—we music teachers ought to be able to continue our work, educating Iceland’s future crop of musicians. But, are we? Not necessarily. For instance, my school, Söngskóli Sigurðar Demetz (“The Vocal Academy of Sigurður Demetz”), can now prepare students for the upcoming Christmas concerts. However, if

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Opinion
Good Ol’ Traditions

Good Ol’ Traditions

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One of last week’s loudest debates has to do with next year’s State Treasury budget, which Alþingi has been debating, as tradition has it, these last days before Christmas. Among the proposed changes in taxation is the lowering of VAT on electric appliances, and a corresponding raised VAT on food products. The What Since the proposal was first introduced, these two particular changes, seen as complimentary, have been disputed. The opposition’s reasoning seems obvious: food is an unavoidable expense, and expensive food will hit hardest those with already meager income. Electric appliances, however, remain a largely optional expense, and higher

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Opinion
Spotify: The Market Sets The Price

Spotify: The Market Sets The Price

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Recently, the independent news site Nútíminn, leader among independent news sites named Nútíminn, ran an Op-Ed by a terribly uninformed man who apparently believes he can run a record company without, it seems, having any sort of a business degree. In his screed, he insists that Supply and Demand break up, because their age old relationship no longer suits his specific needs. Furthermore, he seems to believe that record sales and online streaming are musicians’ sole source of revenue, and that free market capitalism should no longer require businesses to either adapt or perish. Should you be reading this, Haraldur Leví

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Opinion
Iceland’s Economy Shrinks In Third Quarter

Iceland’s Economy Shrinks In Third Quarter

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After years of growing at a respectable rate, the Icelandic economy seems to have stalled. According to the most recent measurements of Statistics Iceland the Icelandic, published on December 5, the Icelandic economy barely registered any growth over the first nine months of the year, and actually shrunk in the third quarter. These results stand in stark contrast to the extremely rosy projections of a couple of weeks ago, which promised a growth rate of 2.7% over the year. Analysts at the large banks were similarly projecting growth around 3% for the year. Now it seems more likely we will

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Opinion
Be A Peaceful Infant Smiling In The Manger

Be A Peaceful Infant Smiling In The Manger

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Feast of lights and love, the family days of Christmas; “what to dine and how to dress”— oh, don’t we all just thrill up on the quirky-looking sweaters and find it all so amusing? And don’t we, just this season, take the necessity of “having a good time” all too seriously concerning all the consumerism attached, as it is almost obligatory to accept February’s Visa bill without any grudge, the late-Christmas-hangover? At least, most of the time “doin’ what ya wanna cuz it’s Xmas” has been, in my context, stepping just a little bit over the line; knowing how much

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