The offices of the prime minister and the president are locking horns over a proposal to more clearly define what the role of the president is, and to create ethics regulations for the office.
While the prime minister of Iceland is the head of government, the president is the head of state. Traditionally, Icelandic presidents have been more symbolic leaders than politically engaged players, as the current president has at times shown himself to be – he was the first president to use his veto power, and has done so three times thus far. He has also been outspoken with regards to the European Union, Icesave, and the state of the Icelandic economy.
One of the conclusions of the Special Investigative Commission (SIC), which examined the contributing factors of the 2008 economic collapse, was that the president was a cheerleader of sorts for the nation’s venture capitalists, often travelling to other countries to extol the virtues of individual businessmen and their companies, as well as giving them awards here at home. In response, the office of the prime minister has proposed a set of ethics regulations for the office of the president.
While the prime minister’s office has also proposed ethics regulations for ministers and members of parliament, President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, RÚV reports, feels as though the prime minister is meddling in the affairs of his office. In a letter responding to the proposed changes, he calls them “an audacious intervention of the relationship between parliament and the office of the president”.
A final decision on the ethics regulations for the president’s office, and what form they will take, has yet to be made.
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