From Iceland — Article on Presidential Couple Causes Controversy

Article on Presidential Couple Causes Controversy

Published February 10, 2009

An article
published in Condé Nast’s Portfolio depicts President Ólafur Ragnar
Grímsson and his wife Dorrit Moussaief arguing mildly about Iceland’s
economy, past and future, with the president repeatedly telling his
wife not to comment to the article’s journalist. One such exchange, taken directly from the article, is as follows:
Grímsson recognizes that Icelanders will face pain in the years ahead.
Home ownership, for example, has been “a fundamental part of the
Icelandic social contract, and it will be a serious challenge.”
Thousands of people, he says, “will probably lose their homes,” an
observation that sets off another quarrel between the president and his
wife—who, in a role reversal, insists that he’s taking too dark a view.
“I’m sorry, honey, I disagree with you,” Moussaieff says, laying down
her dessert fork. “Nobody is going to lose their houses. How can they
lose houses in a country where there are twice as many houses as there
are people?”
“Dorrit, you can’t say that,” the president responds.
“But they won’t be able to sell these houses to anyone else…. I
promise you there won’t be one single homeless Icelander. As far as I’m
concerned, it’s a given.”
“You can’t say that. You just can’t say that.”
“I will say it. So far I’ve been right about everything that I’ve said.”
“Well, you can’t say that. You have no basis for saying it. On this
issue, you don’t have the expertise to say this. You don’t have any
expertise about Iceland’s housing law.”
“What are they going to do? Leave all these thousands of apartments empty?”
“This is—you can’t argue that—no, no. Dorrit, Dorrit, can I please continue this?”
“When I’m finished. There are thousands and thousands of apartments out there.”
“First of all, Dorrit, the fact of the matter is this: The number of homes is not the issue.”
“Dorrit, Dorrit—”
“They’re not going to throw people out. I’ll tell you why: Nobody else can move into those houses, and every banker is—”
“Dorrit, don’t say these things.”

The “role reversal” mentioned in the beginning refers to an article that leads the piece, wherein Dorrit told the reporter that she’d been warning of an impending financial crisis for years. During this time, the president was touting the Icelandic business model to the world. Most of the article focuses on the quirky yet warm relationship the presidential couple have.
The article has gained quite a bit of attention in the Icelandic media. No word yet on where or when, either in the Icelandic media or the foreign media, Dorrit Moussaief warned people about an impending financial crisis.

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