Independence Party chairman Bjarni Benediktsson believes that coverage of Icesave in the newspaper Morgunblaðið – run by former Independence Party chairman and Central Bank manager Davíð Oddsson – is unbalanced, and that Oddsson has been “unfair”.
Many were surprised when the Independence Party came out in favour of supporting the latest Icesave agreement, voted into law by parliament last month but subsequently vetoed by the president, and now up for a referendum to be held 9 April. The issue seemed to divide many conservatives, with some of Bjarni’s own MPs voting against the measure in parliament.
In an interview with the magazine Frjáls Verslun, Bjarni says that he doesn’t believe he has set himself up for defeat by supporting the agreement. While many young conservatives especially have claimed that support for the law went against the party’s own platform, Bjarni pointed out that the platform actually rejects “lawless demands” placed on Iceland.
“The [Icesave] agreement is not built upon any legal obligations on our behalf,” Bjarni said in part, adding that if party members did not want to support any kind of solution for Icesave, “then the platform voted on at the national convention should have gone further, and recommended that the party withdraw itself from all discussions on the matter.”
Bjarni also said that he believes coverage of Icesave in the newspaper Morgunblaðið – long-regarded as a conservative-leaning paper, which now has as an editor a former chairman of the party – has been decidedly unbalanced. Bjarni said that he knows when Davíð is following an issue closely, and when he is throwing himself into an issue “with power and even rage.”
On a related note, remarking on the charges of negligence and mismanagement that former prime minister Geir H. Haarde now faces in connection with the economic collapse, he said that he believes the entire matter was political, with the new government making the decision to attack those previously in power.