The Icesave agreement between Iceland, Britain and Holland has survived committees and debates on the floor of parliament, and will soon be up for the third and final vote. Today’s voting indicates that the new deal could have a much more solid majority than the previous one.
As reported, the new Icesave deal features lower interest rates and a smaller tax burden than the previous deal, which scarcely passed in December 2009 – with some members of the government even voting against it – before it was vetoed by the president.
The ruling coalition of the Social Democrats and the Leftist-Greens support the new agreement, but many have been surprised by the conservatives’ albeit reluctant support for the new deal. Independence Party chairman Bjarni Benediktsson told Vísir that he has always sought a solution to the Icesave matter, and believes the “agreement way” – as opposed to going to court – is the best solution at the time. This position has earned him the criticism of many conservative voters, with Heimdallur – the young conservatives association of Reykjavík – believing a new national party convention should be held if conservative MPs vote with the agreement.
That day may soon be a reality, because today in parliament, the parliamentary majority voted in favour of the new Icesave agreement, with 40 for, 11 against, and six abstaining, Eyjan reports.
Progressives Siv Friðleifsdóttir and Guðmundur Steingrímsson were among those who abstained, as did conservatives Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson and Birgir Ármannsson, Vísir reports. The conservatives said that they would make their feelings known during the final vote, while the Progressives said that while they disagree overall with the Icesave agreement, they don’t intend to block the government on this issue.
The Movement was the sole party to vote unanimously against Icesave.
Bjarni Benediktsson, addressing parliament, said that while the decision wasn’t an easy one to make, it was “a wise decision in the interests of the people to close this chapter with the deal before us,” Vísir reports.
The strong majority of support this time around is a far cry from the razor-thin majority that the previous deal passed with. While the president has coyly hinted to the media that he may veto the new agreement and put it up for referendum, a stronger majority would make this less likely, as does a recent opinion poll that shows the majority of Icelanders support voting in favour of the new Icesave deal.
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