Years Of Strife - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Years Of Strife

Years Of Strife

Published January 18, 2015

Þórður Snær Júlíusson, Editor, Kjarninn

Þórður Snær Júlíusson, Editor, Kjarninn

We are in many respects at a better place by the end of 2014 than we were at the year’s beginning. Inflation is negligible, the GDP is likely growing (although the numbers are conflicting) and steps have been taken to rescind the currency restrictions.

However, we have rarely engaged in as many heated debates over fundamental issues as we did in 2014. The unjust “debt correction,” attempts to withdraw Iceland’s EU application without a referendum, the deferment of environmental laws, the regional relocation of public institutions, submachine guns, the leak affair, mosques, state funding of cultural affairs and how the tax burdens should be divided between citizens. And the year of course ended amidst a doctors’ strike, with the healthcare system in limbo.

This year will, unfortunately, be no less marked by strife. Chief among them will likely be the impending general wage negotiations, where we seem to be heading towards the biggest conflict we’ve seen in decades. The results will have a widespread effect on the nation and its well-being. We will also suffer through fights about a remodelled fishery management system, the nature pass, a repeat of the EU struggle, a changed framework programme, the ever-increasing income and opportunity divide, and the next steps towards lifting the currency restrictions.

It’s hard to determine the coming year’s optimal outcome. The most attractive scenario would see Icelanders’ discourse reaching a level of higher civility, along with Icelandic politicians’ work methods; and it would entail society’s chief operators abandoning their “us vs. them” worldview. In a small and tightly knit community such as ours, where private interests are apparently (and regrettably) at all times protected at the cost of common welfare, this might be a pipe dream at best.

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