From Iceland — Björt Framtíð ("Bright Future") Interviewed

Björt Framtíð (“Bright Future”) Interviewed

Published April 8, 2013

Björt Framtíð (“Bright Future”) Interviewed

1.    Briefly describe your party’s general agenda in one sentence.
Björt framtíð wants to change politics and introduce a more constructive, solution-aimed and consensus-driven way of doing politics under a liberal and a green umbrella.
2.    Tell us about your party. What’s it all about? Does it have a history? Are you proud of that history?  
Björt framtíð was founded in February 2012 after approximately yearlong talks and preparations. People from new and successful parties at the local level, most notably The Best Party in Reykjavík and The People’s Party in Akureyri, joined forces with all kinds of people, some from the old parties, including a sitting MP, and others from no party at all, to form a new party with a brief manifesto that describes our idea of politics as public service. Yes, we are proud of our short history. We have managed to reach conclusions about our main issues in a good and constructive atmosphere and are very much enjoying the ride.
 3.    Is there a foreign sister party that you identify with, one that international readers might identify with?
We have made some connections with liberal parties in Europe through the ALDE group [Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe] at the European Parliament. Radikale Venstre in Denmark are for instance a member of that group and so are the Lib Dems in the UK. We are a similar liberal party with a twist.
4.    What do you consider the most important issue facing Iceland today? How about the most important issue to consider in this election?
We have to gain economic stability. Our currency doesn’t offer such stability. The Euro would probably best suit Iceland. Therefore, and because of other issues as well, we have to finish the negotiations with the EU. Also, we need to increase efficiency in Iceland, use our skills, time, money and natural resources in a more efficient and sustainable manner. That is a huge project, which we have to take seriously. Finally, we need to increase trust, talk to each other and cooperate more on issues.  
5.    What do you admire about the current coalition government and what it accomplished in the last four years? What do you dislike? What will you do better?
This government has managed to get us on track again after the crash. That is admirable.
 6.    Was the financial crisis in 2008 and the problems Iceland now faces in some way caused by government policy and action or the lack thereof? Is your party in some way responsible for this? Why or why not?
There were many reasons for the crisis, one of them being government policy, no doubt. Our party did not exist at the time. It would have been better had we existed then!
7.    Specifically, how do you plan to bring Iceland back to economic prosperity?
We need to join the EU and given that the agreement is good, take up the Euro, increase the value of our exports (which a stable currency, among other things, will help us in doing) with more industrial variety and increased efficiency of labour and money generally. We should not sell our green power cheap.
8.    Do you want to weaken, strengthen or keep unchanged the regulation of the financial industry and other business activity in Iceland?  
We need to get rid of capital controls. That is the main issue. We do not have an international open market economy in Iceland.
9.    Do you plan to increase or decrease the total tax burden in Iceland?
We neither plan to increase it nor decrease it. First and foremost we need to decrease public debt, increase public income from our natural resources and use taxpayer money in an efficient and responsible manner. If this is successful we can lower the tax burden.
10.    Do you believe in the Icelandic króna? Or will you work to adopt an alternative currency? If so, which one?
We believe, much like the Central Bank, that the Euro would best suit Iceland. It is not a magical solution, but the best solution.
11.    Do you support the newly passed law removing an expiration date from Iceland’s capital controls? Will your party work to lift these controls? Does it have a timeframe in mind?
It is essential that capital controls are lifted. We believe that it can only be done by increasing trust in the economy. For that we need a viable currency, or at least a plan to take up such a currency, and also more opportunities for foreign investment in Iceland and increased value of exports. Responsible fiscal policy is also of major importance.
12.    Do you believe that the collapse was more than an economic one? If so, what else failed in 2008 and does it still need fixing?
We have witnessed and experienced a manifold crash in trust. That needs to be fixed.
 13.    How can the government best serve Icelandic homes?
By behaving in a responsible manner and coming up with a viable long-term plan to introduce stability in the Icelandic economy for the first time ever.
14.    What is your stance on Iceland’s application to the European Union? Do you ultimately think Icelanders’ interests would be best served by being part of this coalition?
We believe that we should finish the negotiations with the EU and hopefully the agreement will be so good that the public can approve it.
 15.    What is your stance on the new constitution that was called for in the wake of Iceland’s financial crisis? Are you for or against pushing the current draft through parliament? Why or why not?
A new constitution was being called for long before the financial crisis happened. We want a new constitution based on the current draft. But we need to do this as well as we can. Just a bit more work needs to be done, and then we can finish it. We would like a binding national referendum to be the final conclusion of this fine procedure.  
16.    Will your party do something to protect the land and its resources? Is a more stringent regulative framework needed to ensure conservation of the environment?  
We are a green party. We do not believe that we should focus too much on building more power plants, but that we should increase the efficiency of the capital we have put into the existing power plants. Tourism, although an exciting and upcoming industry in Iceland, does also increase the need for a stronger regulatory framework of preservation.
17.    Is gender equality a problem in Iceland? If so, what does your plan to do to ensure equality?
Gender equality will hopefully never be considered a problem…. We take human rights extremely seriously in Björt framtíð and we strive to ensure that all people have equal opportunities.
18.    Where do you stand on immigration issues?
We should welcome immigrants with a good public policy that aims to help immigrants become good members of Icelandic society.
19.    Does your party harbour any ideas about the role of religion in governance?
We believe that religion should be a personal issue for people and religious freedom should be endorsed.
20.    Are there any parties that your party will not work with in a coalition government? Why?
We have not made any such decision.

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