Icelandic Ruling Coalition Ends - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelandic Ruling Coalition Ends

Published January 26, 2009

The ruling coalition of the Social Democratic Party (Samfylkingin) and
the Conservatives (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) has officially ended. Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde, in speaking to reporters, said the reason for the split was due to the Social Dem’s demand to take over as the leading party of the government. Haarde will meet with the Icelandic president later today and ask to be relieved of his office. Haarde also believes that only realistic solution would be a government comprised of all or most of the five political parties, with the ministries divided between them and the Conservatives leading.
Haarde minced no words in his criticism of the Social Democrats, believing that they have undermined the government. However, Haarde thanked Foreign Minister and Social Dem chairman Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir for their time together, and said their relationship “ended with a kiss much as it had began a year and a half ago” when the two parties first began working together.
Gísladóttir told reporters that she believes Iceland needs a government that is “powerful and trustworthy”. Rather than discuss what new form the government will take, she said a decision on that matter will be reached later today, but that nothing has been ruled out. She later told reporters that her offer to the Independence Party had been that Minister of Social Affairs Jóhönna Sigurðardóttir become the new PM. The Conservatives rejected this offer.
Leftist-Green chairman Steingrímur J. Sigfússon said the news of the government’s collapse came as no surprise, adding “I suppose though that everyone is glad that we’ve finally reached the end of this situation and can now focus on what’s ahead.”
There are basically two possibilities now: either a government comprised of all five parties, or a new government comprised of what many believe will be the Social Dems, the Leftist-Greens, and either the Progessives or the Progressives and the Liberals.
Baldur Þórhallsson, a professor of political science at the University of Iceland, told reporters that while this is certainly “big news”, that it also “comes as no surprise”. He pointed out that the Progressives had publically stated they would support a government comprised of the Social Dems and the Leftist-Greens, giving the Social Dems the confidence to demand the prime ministership from the Conservatives, which they did not want to give up.
The accompanying pictures were shot outside of parliament today as word was trickling out about the coalition government’s fate. The first one lists four demands, two of which have been ticked off. The demands are: “New Republic” – “Resignation of the government” – “The government out now!” – “Party rule abolished”.
The second sign simply says “Ctrl-Alt-Del: Install Iceland 2.0” 


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