Our illustrious president, Ólafur Ragnar “Epic Lulz” Grímsson, decided to purge himself of his reputation as Icelandic Venture Capitalist Cheerleader Numero Uno and vetoed the Icesave bill, thereby refering the bill to national referendum.
The president, citing among his reasons the overwhelming opposition to the bill in two separate opinion polls, and the 50,000 signatures on an online petition calling for the bill’s veto, issued a statement, saying in part, “It is my sincere hope that this decision will lead to permanent reconciliation and prosperity for the people of Iceland, at the same time laying the foundations for good relations with all other nations and by the way I TROLL UUUU LOLOLLOLO :D:D:D:D:D !!!11!”
Despite the veto, it should be noted that a) there are no laws on how a national referendum is conducted (although at the time of this writing, that is being worked out, and a referendum could be held as soon as 20 February), and b) Article 26 of the Icelandic constitution, which allows veto powers to the president, states that a vetoed law is actually in effect until a referendum is held that defeats the law by simple majority. The Prime Minister emphasized this point to the international media, and has sworn that the ruling coalition will hold, despite the set back.
One interesting bit of news: remember how 70% of the nation was opposed to the Icesave deal? Yeah, well,
that figure is 56% now only 41% agree with the president’s veto. This might be an excellent example of “be careful what you wish for” regret.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a point that some in the foreign media seem to have overlooked – even if a referendum does kill the Icesave law, this DOES NOT mean that we are not going to pay. It means that we are going to re-negotiate. No matter what side of this issue you’re on, it’s an important point to drive home.
Also of note: the conservatives – who fought long and hard for the bill’s defeat – don’t actually want the president to have any veto powers, and have held that position ever since one of their own bills was vetoed in 2004. The conservatives are also not that crazy about national referendums, having strongly opposed them with regards to the Kárahnjúkar dam project, and the Iraq War. A source close to the Social Democrats that the Grapevine spoke to said that the bill’s defeat was actually the last thing the opposition wanted – now they’ll have to deal with the possible negative economic consequences of the law’s defeat by referendum. The referendum itself may cost about 200 million ISK. This may very well be their last shot at credibility.
The one thing certain in the year to come: Icelanders sick of hearing about Icesave will have to live with the subject for at least another year, not to mention some of the grimmer results that could follow.