In the wake of a parliamentary majority voting to press charges of negligence against former prime minister Geir H. Haarde for his part in Iceland’s economic collapse, Geir has accused parliament as a whole of engaging in “political persecution”. Conservatives are outraged by the result. Social Democrats deny that they were protecting their own, and some MPs are calling for new elections.
As reported, the four former ministers who were recommended to stand trial for negligence and mismanagement all barely escaped charges by as few as one vote, but the measure to press charges against Geir passed, 33 votes to 30.
Geir told reporters that the Social Democrats were protecting their own, as two of those that a parliamentary committee recommended face charges – former Minister of Business Björgvin G. Sigurðsson and former foreign minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir – are themselves Social Democrats. Geir has already hired a lawyer, and believes that a national court will find him innocent.
However, a look at how voting was conducted by party does in fact show mixed voting among the Social Democrats. Three Social Dem MPs voted to press charges against Björgvin, and five voted to press charges against Ingibjörg. Note by the chart that there is some overlap there, however, and most of the 20 Social Democrat MPs voted against pressing charges against their own, if anyone.
Conservative chairman Bjarni Benediktsson said that the charges were “scandalous”, with many other conservatives again evoking the notion that the charges are purely political in nature.
Disgusted overall with the affair, MPs for The Movement have called for new elections. In a statement from the party, they contend that the results of the vote show that party lines took precedence over acting responsibly.