Svandís Svavarsdóttir, MP, Left-Green Party
Unfortunately, I fear that 2014 will be remembered as the year when Iceland took a turn from being a Nordic welfare state, towards becoming a society marked by neoliberalism and harsh individualism.
Iceland’s right-wing government is currently engaging in a full-scale attack on the foundations of the welfare system that has served as the backbone and unifying force of our society for decades. Our healthcare system is in grave danger, so much so that it may take years to repair the damage. Our upper secondary school system is further undermined by being closed off to those over the age of 25. Access to unemployment benefits is being severely limited. These are but a few examples of what the government has been up to lately.
Young people who currently face the choice of where to plant their roots look to the infrastructure, to the safety net. While the choice is still theirs, they look to the preschools, student loans, public transportation, the rental market, the healthcare system and the options available to young parents. More and more are choosing to settle elsewhere than in Iceland. The young men who lead Iceland’s government seem to reside in a different world than the rest of us, utterly incapable of assessing the situation.
Thankfully, their policy is meeting an increased opposition from the public, which can for instance be seen in dwindling support for the government, despite Iceland’s exterior circumstances being far better than they have been for years.
The government has no authority to transform the core foundations of our society, and must reevaluate its position. In a democratic society, anything else is unacceptable.