Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, outgoing Minister of Employment, has caused a local stir by publishing an article in the Financial Times wherein he attempts to account for the upset in the recent Parliamentary elections. The article, which appeared in the opinion section on the Financial Times website last night and is expected in print form tomorrow, is entitled “Iceland’s election is a signal to the rest of Europe.” In the article, Steingrímur attempts to account for why Icelandic voters chose to reinstate the right wing parties that led them into the 2008 crisis in spite of the relative success of the outgoing centre-left coalition in stabilizing the economy and lowering unemployment. Steingrímur centres the article around what he calls a “fundamental question,” namely whether “any politician can meet the unrealistic expectations of Europe’s voters.” He criticizes the materialistic consumerism and insatiable demand for economic growth which he claims right-wing parties exploit in order to lure voters with extravagant promises about increasing consumer power. Steingrímur argues that such promises of increasing consumer power through tax cuts and de-regulation are short-sighted, opportunistic and do not take sustainable growth into account. He ponders why the left-centre coalition suffered such an outstanding defeat after having managed to lead the country towards economic recovery whilst sparing low-income groups the austerity measures which have been increasingly implemented elsewhere in Europe. After considering the claims that the coalition’s defeat was due to a lack of boasting about their success or disunity within the coalition, he again suggests the role of unrealistic voter expectations: “the truth is that we were beaten by the enormity of the task and the importance of public expectations.” In this way, Steingrímur not only challenges European politicians to weigh short-term profits against long-term stability and sustainability but he also urges European voters to re-evaluate their own expectations.
After failed attempts at negotiations with State authorities, surgeons at the national university hospital Landspítalinn will vote, later this week, on a potential strike. The strike action would commence in two weeks and postpone 150 operations each week. 5,000 people currently await operation, according to RÚV. In case of a strike, surgeons would still do emergency operations. Minister of Healthcare, Kristján Þór Júlíusson, has said that he supports the surgeons’ demands and will discuss the matter with Minister of Finance, Bjarni Benediktsson.
Healthcare Minister Kristján Þór Júlíusson has proposed that the State sell some assets to finance the construction of new hospital building. In a radio interview broadcast by RÚV Wednesday morning, he stated: “We should proceed by transferring assets that belong to Icelanders in common to another form of ownership, in order to be able to reconstruct our national hospital, as everyone agrees we must do.” As journalist Jóhann Hauksson already pointed out, in pre-2008 Icelandic, ‘transferring assets to another form of ownership’ would have been simply called privatization. The Minister evaluates State assets at a total neat 1,000 billion ISK,
Former Prime Minister of Iceland, Geir H. Haarde, has landed a pivotal ambassadorial post in Washington D.C, reports RÚV. Geir is most known for being prime minister during Iceland’s 2008 economic meltdown. In 2010, parliament voted in favour of Geir standing trial for negligence and mismanagement while in office. Geir was eventually found guilty of one of the four charges of negligence levied against him. As reported, the charge was that he either knew or should have known that he had to respond in some way to the information he had been receiving that the economy was unstable. Prosecutor Sigríður
Iceland, considered a global leader in gender equality, has announced it will send only men to a U.N. conference on women and gender equality, reports ABC. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson told the U.N. General Assembly of world leaders on Monday that the January “barbershop” conference will be unique, “as it will be the first time at the United Nations that we bring together only male leaders to discuss gender equality.” It won’t however, be the first time in history that male leaders get together to discuss women’s issues, without any women present. According to Gunnar Bragi, the
The chairperson of parliament’s Tax and Economics Committee believes the Icelandic government should buy evidence of tax evasion, a sample of which has already been offered to authorities. RÚV reports that Frosti Sigurjónsson, a Progressive MP and the chairperson of the Tax and Economics Committee, believes the government should pay to receive only legal documentation of Icelanders evading taxes. If the documents were illegally obtained, he added, this detail would certainly “complicate” matters. “If it’s true what I’ve heard, that the Germans have gone this way, buying this kind of information, than I believe we have no choice but to
The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police confirms there is no evidence that any Icelanders have joined forces with the theocratic extremist group ISIS. Vísir reports that they sent a formal inquiry to the police on the matter, and were informed that – to the best of anybody’s knowledge – no Icelandic citizens have joined forces with ISIS. As far-fetched as the possibility may sound, European Union anti-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove told the BBC that over 3,000 EU citizens have already joined ISIS. Closer to home, Vísir adds that at the beginning of the summer, Danish secret services revealed