From Iceland — The Independence Party

The Independence Party

Published April 3, 2009

The Independence Party
The Indipendence Party – In Their Own Words
The Independence Party is the biggest mass movement in Iceland. Registered members are close to 50 thousand. Yearly, a great number of men and women aged 15 and up participate in the parties operation through over 100 local party divisions.

Work within the Independence Party revolves around politics. It is infinitely varied, as politics revolve around ideas, actions and people.

The Independence ideology is the grounding for the party’s stance on every matter. Its core is the faith in freedom of the individual and equal opportunity for all to grow and reap the fruits of their talent. The independence and safety of the nation is also an important facet of the ideology. The freedom to operate and act for both individuals and corporations must be ensured, even though freedom comes with great responsibility and care must be taken. The party greatly emphasises the need to support those that are in need of a strong safety net.

The coalition of young Independence Party members works on the matters of young people within the party, and many charters are operated throughout the country. The association of female Independence Party members has also been operated for many years, and the coalition of elder party members works in favour of seniors within the party.

The Independence ideology is in constant formation. Everyone who so wishes can participate in the varied party activities, and can influence its course, for instance by enlisting in any of the fifteen different subject committees operated by the party or by partaking some of the party’s many open meetings and events.

The party recently completed a splendid national convention, thrown under the axiom “Let’s get to work.” At the convention, we honestly came to terms with the events that happened this winter, and also laid down lines for the future. The party emphasises that the restrictive and tax-raising policies of the current government aren’t the way out of the recession, rather we should trust in private enterprise and the power that resides within individuals.

Grapevine vs. The Independence Party, Q&A

Briefly describe the party’s general agenda using one sentence.
The policy of the Independent Party is based on the power, initiative and hard work of the people. Enterprise and welfare are and will be the building blocks of the Independent Party’s policy.

There have been loud calls for renewal in the ranks of Icelandic MPs and politicians lately? How has your party responded to these requests?
The Independent Party holds primaries for the party list in all voting districts. The thousands of voters who participated have secured great renewal on the party lists.

What is your party’s financial agenda? What are you going to do about the króna?
The need for stability and a competitive economic environment  has been the main justification for joining the European Union (EU) and taking up the Euro, even though EU membership would likely be detrimental to the fishing industry and agriculture, as well as having other significant drawbacks.

A broad discussion has taken place within the Independence Party about the pros and cons of Iceland joining the EU. The conclusion is that, according to the Independence Party, if the Parliament or government decides upon an application for EU membership, a national election should be held about that decision based on defined goals and conditions. At any rate, national elections should follow from any possible results of membership negotiations.

How does the party plan to help Icelandic companies?
Icelanders should never accept unemployment in the country. We must immediately be on the offensive. We will secure up to twenty thousand new jobs in our term in office as well as protecting already existing jobs. We will do this by:
–    Completing the reorganization the fiscal system within three months. One of the most pressing issues for the Icelandic labour market and families is an effective banking system.
–    Immediately lifting restraints on foreign exchange and preventing the regression of Icelandic society by decades.
–    Stoping the move towards centralized government and nationalization, a system the current leftist governments sadly seems to consider natural.
–    Rejecting all new taxes for the labour market and individuals. They will be overburdened by higher taxes.
–    Creating consensus about the harnessing of our resources and starting immediately the building up the high-energy sectors, such as databases, aluminium smelters and other high-tech businesses.
–    Affecting temporary changes in the tax system to stimulate job creation and development, which will be especially beneficial at new innovative businesses.

How does the party plan to help Icelandic homes?
In this country, a long tradition exists of families investing in their own homes. Radical measures need to be taken to prevent loss of homes by individuals and due to temporary financial problems. To achieve this, we will do the following:
–    Allow homeowners to be able to lower their monthly payments by up to 50% for three years as well as to extend their period of lending. The goal is to adjust the monthly payment to people‘s financial ability and increase the flexibility of regular instalments. To respond to the altered circumstances in the economy, a decreasing of loan’s capital will be considered.
–    We aim to convert fixed price loans into unfixed loans when inflation and interest rates have been stabilized.
–    All the government‘s ideas about high- and middle income taxes are rejected, as the victims of these are most often big families with large financial responsibilities.
–    The fixed interest rate of the Central Bank of Iceland will be decreased and reach 5-6% towards the end of this year. The Icelandic labour market and homes cannot tolerate this high interest rate.

How can Iceland regain trustworthiness in the eyes of foreign investors and creditors? How can Iceland prevent becoming isolated in the global village?
No answer provided.

What is your party’s stance on the European Union?
The Independence Party holds that Iceland’s interests are best secured by remaining outside of the EU while conducting a close healthy relationship with it based on the contract for the European Economic Area, which opens up the internal market of the EU. A complete membership would threaten to take control over Iceland’s biggest national resources, such as the fisheries. The Independence Party also emphasizes greatly that it will ultimately be the Icelandic nation, the people, who decide if membership talks with the EU commence, and a second vote will be conducted about the result of possible membership talks.

Who is responsible for the Icelandic economic collapse and the problems Iceland now faces? Does your party share any of the responsibility? 
A host of intersecting factors caused the crisis and the fall of the banks. External factors played a vital role. The international economic crisis limited access to foreign lending a great extent; lending that the Icelandic banks relied on. Other important reasons for the collapse can be traced to the fact that those who led the expansion of the banks and other businesses took more risks than they could handle. They put the whole of society at risk with this, while society did not benefit from it, nor understand and agree with it.

In addition to external factors, several reasons for the crisis can be found to lie with the governing power, be it the government, the legislative or institutional branches. The Independent Party was a governing party when the crisis hit, and often had a leadership role as well in the times of prosperity leading up to it. Consequently, the Independence Party holds inevitably great responsibility for the mistakes that were made by the government and which could have been avoided. The Independent Party accepts this responsibility and offers its apologies for the failures, for it should have done better.

Of all the political parties, it is only the Independent Party that has had courage and inner strength to face the re-evaluation of the process, which led to the fall of the banks and the economic crisis. The people of the country have been able to witness the open, honest and substantial discussion that has taken place within the party. The Independence Party becomes stronger by admitting its mistakes and learning from them.

What is your party’s stance on constitutional change? Should we assemble a constitutional parliament, or are there other ways?
The Independence Party has always been ready for collaboration with other parties on the issue of constitutional change. The constitution needs to be in constant revision and it has repeatedly been changed for the better in recent years. However, The Independence party rejects hasty changes in this vital legal document…

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?
It is correct that a broad decrease in government spending because of decreased income is inevitable. Neither homes nor companies can bear increased taxation and, consequently, the drop in government income has to be met with budget cuts. Measures have to be taken so that basic services, such as health care and education, will not suffer.

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