One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -Plato
The Citizen Movement is, as the name indicates, a broad movement of active citizens in a democratic society. That democratic society turned out to have certain flaws; flaws that were clearly revealed in the aftermath of the economic collapse last fall. The economic collapse brought together the people behind the Movement. The Citizen Movement consists of people with diverse backgrounds and different values; people living under different conditions from across Iceland are within its ranks.
The Citizen Movement ideology is to ensure justice, equality and democracy in the past, present and future.
Past: We wish to expose Icelandic banking, at least from the foundation of the IceSave accounts, as a giant fraud. That way, we can appeal to the sense of justice of those nations that were exposed to our racketeers. We will simply ask them for help to locate the money – because it is somewhere to be found – and let them keep what they find. Obviously some of the money evaporated in the bubble. Our aim is to hold the racketeers and banksters responsible for what’s lacking.
Present: The most reasonable and fair way to right the Icelandic household situation is by moving Iceland’s price indexation back to what it was in January of 2008. It is clear that the government knew where we were headed at that time. They did not tell us, and thus we could not react. Therefore, this correction is an unquestionable matter of fairness. Company write-offs should not be a priority. First, it should be attempted to sell the company; if not possible to get an acceptable price for it, then the employees should be offered the chance to take the company over. Their owners’ debt will not be automatically written off, but they will be given the chance to accrue favourable loans or change the debt of promising companies into government equity.
Future: We must make radical democratic reform to ensure that the events of the last months will not repeat themselves. We underwent a great shock, and will need to work our way out of it some way. It is obvious that the current system failed us. In our mind, it seems irrational to cosy up to the last remaining wall of the house, light a fire and try to get comfortable. We must build from the bottom up. To ensure this is possible we need to instigate a constitutional parliament. A constitutional parliament, if done correctly, would initiate a discourse on what kind of society we want, what values we wish to uphold and how we want to distribute power to those that seek to represent us in government. Post collapse, the build up and investigation needs to be put on a certain path – we believe a constitutional parliament is that path.
Grapevine vs. The Citizen Movement. Q&A
Briefly describe the party’s general agenda using one sentence.
Let’s bring the people to Parliament.
There have been loud calls for renewal in the ranks of Icelandic MPs and politicians lately? How has your party responded to these requests?
As was to be expected, the renewal in the party ranks is next to none. We encouraged those who are aligned with us and wanted to join any of the parties to do so. Unfortunately, far too few from our ranks got selected to represent them.
What is your party’s financial agenda? What are you going to do about the króna?
We will seek ways to solve our currency problems by joining currency coalitions with other nations or, if need be, by the one sided adoption of another currency.
How does the party plan to help Icelandic companies?
Indebted companies will be offered for sale and offers only accepted if a reasonable price is to be had. If not, employees will be allowed to take over the companies. The owners’ debt will not be automatically written off, but we can grant them favourable loans or change their debts into government equity.
How does the party plan to help Icelandic homes?
The very serious matter of household debt will be immediately rectified by bringing the price indexation to what it was before our economy collapsed (January of 2008). The capital and mortgage rates will lower according to that. Real interest on price-indexed loans will be 2-3% at most and mortage payments may be postponed for two years by extending the loans. Due to exchange rate insured loans, the household debt will be rectified in correlation with price indexed mortgage loans. We will then make an arrangement with the owners of price-indexed mortgages to change them into fixed interest bonds and the price indexation in mortgage agreements will be abolished.
How can Iceland regain trustworthiness in the eyes of foreign investors and creditors? How can Iceland prevent becoming isolated in the global village?
We need to be humble and treat the IceSave and Edge issues as the frauds that they surely were. We need to seek help from the nations that were hurt by our racketeers to reclaim their stolen money, what cannot be reclaimed our racketeers will be held accountable for.
What is your party’s stance on the European Union?
Our stance is that we must ensure that Icelanders can make an informed decision on the matter. The only way to do that in our opinion is to start negotiations with the EU, because it is only when the details of any agreement to join are clear that we can decide whether this is something the nation wants. When all the information is at hand, we will call for a national referendum on the issue.
Who is responsible for the Icelandic economic collapse and the problems Iceland now faces? Does your party share any of the responsibility?
The system, politicians and banksters. Around 90% of the Business Council’s agreements became law or some sort of regulation. How can that happen? Yes, the Business Council shared the same interest as MPs. They were voted to protect our interest, and they failed us. They were not thinking about us, but about protecting and maximizing their stake in “the booming economy.” And the rest is history.
What is your party’s stance on constitutional change? Should we assemble a constitutional parliament, or are there other ways?
In order to come to terms with ourselves and our descendants, who will pay for our sins, we need to incur an institutional parliament. However, that cannot happen like the current government is proposing. That bill was thought out by the party, for the party. Us in the Civilian Movement want an institutional parliament of the people, for the people.
It is given that the Icelandic state needs to initiate many cutbacks in the near future. Where should those be imposed, in your opinion, and are there any fields that should be “exempt” from such cutbacks?
Any deficit will be met by reconsidering our taxation system, by increasing taxation steps, a high-income tax and changes to the VAT system, for example, rather than cutting back on health and welfare. The IMF will not be allowed to take control of the country.