The referendum on Icesave will be held tomorrow, and the latest polls show a very thin margin between the country voting Yes or No.
As many readers are aware by now, the Icelandic government did strike up an agreement with British and Dutch authorities over Icesave last December which featured lower interest rates than the previous agreement (from 5% for both countries to 3% for Holland and 3.3% for the UK) and puts the burden of liability on Landsbanki’s estate. The agreement was passed by parliament last February with a majority of about 70%.
Despite this level of support, the president saw fit to veto the law and refer it to public referendum. Which brings us to where we are today.
Debate on both sides of the Icesave issue has been heated. Supporters says that Iceland is bound by international law, and that to say No could not only tarnish Iceland’s reputation as a country one can lend money to, but might also end up costing taxpayers far more than the current agreement. Opponents to Icesave argue, on the other hand, that the general public should not cover even the smallest percentage of debts incurred by a private bank.
It has been pointed out that the Icesave agreement, with its emphasis on Landsbanki paying first and the government covering the remainder, might end up costing taxpayers little or nothing. And of course many Icelanders intend to vote Yes simply because they are tired of hearing about Icesave and want the matter to die.
Public opinion appears to be almost evenly divided on the matter, even on the day before the referendum. A new Gallup poll on the matter shows that 52% of Icelanders intend to vote No on Icesave, while 48% will vote Yes. Bear in mind that these figures were almost the exact reverse just a week previous.
For those of our readers who wish to be better informed on the matter, we strongly recommend visiting the following website, in English, which gives a good run-down of what the referendum is all about. For those of our readers who have a position one way or the other on Icesave, we encourage you all to get out tomorrow and vote, and bring someone with you.