President "No Hero" - The Reykjavik Grapevine

President “No Hero”

Published January 8, 2010

Icelandic journalist Íris Erlingsdóttir had an article published on Huffington Post wherein she argues that Icelandic president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is not a populist hero but is rather covering for his capitalist friends.
As the Grapevine has previously covered, Iceland’s president has been a prominent supporter of Icelandic venture capitalists for years. During the same year that financial analysts such as Standard & Poors were warning that the economy was overheating, the president was telling foreign audiences things such as that the “absence of bureaucracy in Iceland and a lack of tolerance for bureaucratic methods” is one of the many reasons why Icelandic businessmen had been so successful.
Erlingsdóttir believes that the president’s move is a populist one designed to repair his image, noting in part, “Is it any coincidence that the petition presented to Ólafur Ragnar asking him to veto was the work of Magnús Árni Skúlason, a former Progressive Party board member who was forced to resign from the Central Bank after it became known that he was aiding and abetting violations of the country’s currency laws? … It would have been courageous for [the president] to have questioned the ‘irrational exuberance’ of his banker friends instead of cheerleading their orgy of conspicuous consumption.”

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