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

Outgoing Minister Of Employment Takes Stock Of Recent Elections

Alda Kravec
Words by

Published May 15, 2013

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.  



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Progressives Mock Muslims On Video

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Reykjavík’s two Progressive councilpersons showed up at a student party uninvited and held forth in an incident captured on video. Vísir reports that last Friday night, political science and economics students from the University of Iceland were holding a party at Hverfisgata 33. The upper floors of this building are home to a reception hall, as well as the offices of the Progressive Party. At some point in the evening, some of these Progressives decided to pay a visit. A student at the scene reported that the Progressives were having an event of their own on the floor below the

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Landowners Demand End To Smelter Pollution

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A group of landowners in Reyðarfjörður have told the Alcoa Fjarðaál aluminium smelter to stop the emission of fluoride in the area. Austurfrétt reports that the landowners’ group Landeigendur Áreyja has told the directorship to put an end to the omissions, which they say are far too high. Guðrún Kjartansdóttir, speaking to reporters on the matter, said that before the smelter was built, area residents were promised that they need not worry about any kind of fluoride pollution from the smelter. “We were told that this would be a very hi-tech and perfect smelter,” she said. “It is unacceptable to

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Immigrant Wins Work Permit Challenge Against Government

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An immigrant from Iran has won a court case against the Icelandic government, after he was denied a work permit on grounds the court found insufficient. MBL reports that the man in question came to Iceland from Iran in 2011, originally on a student permit. Later in the year, he bought an import company, taking a seat on the directorship and registering himself as the managing director. After buying the company, the man changed the company’s name, and began to import silk and carpets from the Middle East, as well as dates, nuts and other foodstuffs. However, in March 2013

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Volcano Watch: Bárðarbunga And Holuhraun Update

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Bárðarbunga caldera continues to subside at the same rate as before, roughly half a metre per day, reports the Institute of Earth Sciences. Large earthquakes are still being detected in the Bárðarbunga caldera, several with a magnitudes over 3, some over 5. The lava production at the currently active Holuhraun eruption continues to be strong. The lava flow is now around the centre of the lava field, which has grown to around 37 square kilometres. As reported, scientists in the field estimate that around 90% of the SO2 gas coming from the eruption originates in the active craters and only 10%

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Creditors Closer To Pay Out

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The outlook for hedge funds caught in Iceland’s $85 billion banking failure may be looking up, reports Bloomberg. The administrators overseeing claims against one of the three banks that defaulted in 2008, Glitnir Bank hf, say recent talks with a government committee indicate that it will now be easier to complete creditor settlements. “My impression is that the government had until now not been ready,” Steinunn Guðbjartsdóttir, head of Glitnir’s winding-up committee, told Bloomberg. “Now that they’ve got their processes in place, it will be possible to complete this sooner rather than later.” The main obstacle to repaying creditors has

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Poison Gas Cloud Heading Northeast

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The Icelandic Met Office predicts sulphur dioxide (SO2) gas from the Holuhraun eruption will move north and east over the next 24 hours. As can be seen, the Met Office has two maps for predicted areas where significant levels of SO2 will be present. Egilsstaðir and Reyðarfjörður are expected to be hit the hardest by the gas, which continues to pour out of the Holuhraun eruption site. However, levels of SO2 will vary from region to region, and even from hour to hour. A more detailed map allows one to see the forecast movement of SO2 concentrations through Tuesday. Simply

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