We’re now six months from last year’s parliamentary elections, and our government is ostensibly led by the Left-Greens. I say “ostensibly” because recent events can’t help but make you wonder if the Independence Party aren’t the ones actually running the government.
The first surprise was in the formation of the government itself. Minister of Justice Sigríður Á. Andersen, whose actions during the previous government demonstrably led to its downfall, retained her position. This led to open speculation that her keeping her job was part of the deal the Left-Greens worked out with the Independence Party (for the record, Left-Greens I’ve spoken with know of no such deal).
Speaking of Sigríður, when the Social Democrats and the Pirates submitted a no-confidence proposal against her, it was not entirely surprising that other MPs in the ruling coalition voted against it, Left-Greens amongst them. What was surprising, however, is that when two Left-Green MPs – Andrés Ingi Jónsson and Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir, who also voted against allying with the Independence Party – voted in favour of the no-confidence vote, Prime Minister and Left-Green chair Katrín Jakobsdóttir publicly shamed the two on national television, telling RÚV she was “disappointed” with their votes.
Most bizarre of all on this subject was the defeat of Andrés’ bill calling for lowering the municipal election voting age from 18 to 16. Normally, a bill from the party leading the government is a slam dunk, even in instances when the bill was submitted by an individual MP rather than the party as a whole, which was the case this time. Instead, final discussion on the bill was eaten up over the course of four hours, thanks in no small part to Brynjar Níelsson and Bergþór Ólason, two MPs from the Independence Party. In short, two MPs from within the government more or less filibustered a bill from their own partners in the coalition.
This isn’t to say that the Left-Greens haven’t been able to get anything done. But these recent events, as well as the newly released five-year budget that has drawn considerable criticism for being too right wing, do raise questions about who’s really steering the ship: the party leading the government, or their much larger partners.