10:10 – Polling places opened at 9:00, and will not close until 22:00. The chairman of the conservatives has already voted, Vísir reports, and other members of the opposition are expected to do the same. The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister will, apparently, sit this one out. The president of Iceland – the man who made this referendum happen – told reporters that everyone now sees that the law he vetoed was unfair, and his veto of the Icesave law resulted in the British and Dutch making Iceland a better offer. So it’s a good thing we’re spending all this time and money to vote on terms of the agreement that no longer exist, eh?
13:05 – Where’s everybody at? According to Vísir, this day has already seen a pretty weak turnout in Reykjavík. As of about eleven this morning, only 2,034 ballots have been cast, which is 4.63% of eligible voters. By comparison, 8.14% of eligible voters had voted by this time during last year’s emergency elections. Vísir also reports that while the southwest district is also showing a low turnout, things are really hoppin’ up in Akureyri. Well, day ain’t over yet, folks. The polls have only been open, what, four hours now? Let’s get this party started!
13:18 – Just wanted to take this moment to thank you readers for your comments of encouragement. It’s true that the rich and powerful got us in this mess, but it was the previous government that let that happen. I’m talking about the Independence Party and the Progressives. The same gang who told us to sit back, relax, and let the market take care of itself. The same gang who created the environment for the banks to collapse. The same gang who now point fingers and try to shout down the people trying to clean up the mess.
No, it’s not cool that we’re now left having to work out some kind of deal with the British and the Dutch to the tune of billions of euros. But the behavior of the opposition parties astounds me. I’ll tell you what: if I break into your house and trash it, I promise not to criticise the way you clean up after me.
13:55 – OK, there seems to be some confusion among the foreign press with regards to what this referendum is actually about. Let me see if I can clarify.
The referendum is not a vote on whether or not we’ll be paying the British and the Dutch. We will. The referendum is on law 1/2010, which outlines a set of terms and conditions for paying back the British and Dutch. These terms include the infamous 5.5% interest rate.
If the referendum passes, those terms and conditions go into effect. And if it fails, then … we keep negotiating. As it is, the British and Dutch have already offered us a lower interest rate, and a temporary interest-free period of repayment. This is why it’s been contended that the referendum going one way or the other is moot at this point. Even its strongest supporters are starting to use language such as “symbolic gesture”. That’s basically what it amounts to at this point.
14:16 – You know it’s a slow news day when you hear fireworks going off for a few seconds and wonder, “Could this be related to the referendum?” I say, sure, why not?
14:53 – RÚV reports that there are Icesave protests in Reykjavík and Oslo. About 2,000 people assembled in front of parliament. Hope they remembered to vote!
16:04 – Boy is this turning out a fun and interesting day. We had eggs for breakfast, played some Backgammon, did the dishes and listened to some choice music. These rainy Saturdays always present a nice opportunity to stay in and lounge around. By the way, have you seen those Die Antwoord videos? Those sure are fun. Anyway. What’s… oh yeah… we’re liveblogging the snoozefest that is THE NATIONAL REFERENDUM ON NOTHING. Better get on that then. Absolutely nothing has happened at all since we last liveblogged. Well, we assume a couple more people turned up to vote on whether we accept the 5.5% interest rate offer that is already obsolete, or whether we say no to that 5.5% interest rate offer that no longer needs saying no to.
On the media side of things, DV just reported that Reuters reported that Iceland’s PM Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir told them that neither she nor the coalition government would resign if the referendum turns in a “NAY!”
Progressive Party animal chairman Sigumundur Davíð told reporters Vísir that he will consider a 50% turnout to be “a shining victory” for something.
We read on MBL that the Independence Party is hosting an open house and “Say no to Icesave!” party at their HQ today. They even made a cool “NO TO ICESAVE!” logo for their website and all, which is funny as they are well aware that today’s vote isn’t about saying no to Icesave at all. Or at least they should be aware – they led the move to say yes to paying back Icesave back when that was approved by parliament back in 2008. But you should check out their party regardless. As the political party that received the biggest corporate funding/sponsorship/kickbacks BY FAR over the last decade, they can probably afford some sweet party favours. Champagne and Kobe burgers for all!
Anyway. It’s time for another game of Backgammon.
MORE AS THIS DEVELOPS!
17:16 – I think if we can wring one drop of sweetness from this farce of farces, it’s that this is probably the best the Progressive Party is ever going to do. I mean seriously – what have they got after this? And by “this”, I mean their fairly transparent connection to InDefense. They’re not projected to win a seat on Reykjavík city council, and their parliamentary numbers have been decidedly ‘meh’. Once this non-issue is voted upon, and the grown-ups go back to trying to work out a deal, whither the Progressives then? I think they should build a carinval by the harbor. Everyone loves carnivals, right? Can’t go wrong with a carnival.
19:52 – Vísir reports that 38% of eligible voters have cast ballots in the referendum. Not exactly the raging voice of the nation. Conservative party chairman Bjarni Benediktsson is nonetheless happy with the turnout, saying in part that “the people aren’t letting the pouting of the ministers influence their decision”. The president has gone so far as to say the referendum “strengthens the development of democracy”. Jesus. By ten o’ clock, the referendum will be responsible for the combustion engine and soft-serve ice cream. Ah well. We got like … two hours to go until the polls close. Where will you be then? Me, I’ll be wishing a dear friend a happy birthday, and trying to erase the word “Icesave” from my vocabulary.
22:05 – Poll’s closed! RÚV reports that on a national level, about 40% of eligible voters cast ballots in this referendum.In the capital area alone, that figure was about 42%. By comparison, 69% of Reykjavík residents voted in last year’s parliamentary elections. Numbers throughout the countryside vary between 39% in Akureyri and 55% in the southwest. The first numbers on the national count are to appear later tonight.
22:27 – A huuuuuuge majority has rejected law 1/2010, according to first results from the vote, which read about on Eyjan.is a little while ago. According to initial numbers, around 90% of those who bothered casting a vote said a firm no to whatever it is they were voting about. In other news, The Backgammon Wars are getting more intense by the moment – more as this develops.
22:55 – It’s over. Vísir reports that only about 1,200 of the 69,000 who voted in the Icesave referendum voted yes. Alright then! The terms and conditions of the pending Icesave deal between Iceland, Britain and Holland that were off the table are now really, really off the table. The government will stand, say the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. Negotiations will continue. 200 million Icelandic crowns spent on this are gone. The world turns, 30 Rock is still funny, Carlos Mencia still isn’t, and what are you doing on the internet on a Saturday night? Damn, leave your house and enjoy the weekend!
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