From Iceland — Iceland Establishes New Government

Iceland Establishes New Government

Published May 11, 2009

The Social Democrat/Leftist-Green coalition government was formally
established yesterday. Parliament will soon vote on whether or not to
begin membership talks with the European Union.
First off, there are twelve ministers. They are as follows:
Prime Minister – Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir (Soc. Dem.)
Minister of Foreign Affairs – Össur Skarphéðinsson (Soc. Dem.)
Minister of Insurance and Social Affairs – Árni Páll Árnason (Soc. Dem.)
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries – Jón Bjarnason (Left Green)
Minister for the Environment – Svandís  Svavarsdóttir (Left Green)
Minister of Economic Affairs – Gylfi Magnússon (Not party affiliated)
Minister of Justice – Ragna Árnadóttir (Not party affiliated)
Minister of Finance – Steingrímur J. Sigfússon (Left Green)
Minister of Education – Katrín Jakobsdóttir (Left Green)
Minister of Industry – Katrín Júlíusdóttir (Social Dem)
Minister of Health – Ögmundur Jónasson (Left Green)
Minister of Transportation – Kristján L. Möller (Social Dem)
The new government has released a plan for their first 100 days which,
unsurprisingly, focusses almost entirely on the economy. Among the
goals of the plan are to balance the budget, reach an agreement with
foreign parties with regards to debts owed (e.g. Icesave), to increase
the media’s and the public’s access to government, increase
transparency, stabilize the economy and to establish a national
referendum on the EU question. As has been previously reported, the
Social Dems and the Leftist-Greens disagree on whether Iceland should
apply for membership, but both parties agree the matter needs to be put
to a vote. This vote may occur within the next few weeks.
Reaction to the new government has been mixed. The Confederation of
Icelandic Labour Unions, which had been very critical of the coalition,
expressed satisfaction with the coalition’s plan to rescue the
Icelandic household from sinking further into debt. The conservative
Independence Party criticized the new government, saying their economic
plan was very generally worded and offered no specific solutions. The
Progressive Party – whose chairman recently contended Iceland should
consider breaking diplomatic contact with Britain – expressed surprise
that the new government expects the opposition to work with the
majority in fixing the economy. The Citizen’s Movement contends that
the new government’s plan does not go far enough to help Icelandic
This is the first time in Icelandic history that there has been a
leftist government. This summer will in all likelihood prove to be the
make-or-break period for showing real improvements to the economy.

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