Coalition Talks: EU Referendum at the Focal Point - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Coalition Talks: EU Referendum at the Focal Point

Published April 29, 2009

Sources close to Morgunblaðið say that at the core of coalition talks
between the Social Democrats and Leftist-Greens is the question of a
national referendum on whether or not to apply for EU membership.
The sources say that what the two parties are currently discussing is how to bring the EU question to the people and in what form. Morgunblaðið reports that the Leftist-Greens have been proposing one or two national referendums (depending on who in the party you talk to) where the people would say whether or not Iceland should apply for EU membership. The Social Democrats support more the idea of a single referendum, and also claim that their result from last Saturday’s elections, wherein they became the largest party in the country, as well as the fact that the majority of parliament is pro-EU, is a sign that most Icelanders want to join the EU.
The Leftist-Greens believe that Iceland’s economy would be best served outside the EU, while the Social Democrats believe the adoption of the euro and joining the EU would be the surest way to stabilize the economy. Many Icelanders worry they will lose control of their fishing waters or face rising unemployment if they join, even though some political thinkers believe it would be possible to negotiate with the EU on the fishing waters question.
The chairmen of both parties have expressed confidence that they will be able to reach an agreement on the matter, and establish a coalition agreement, but also say that they are in no rush.

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