From Iceland — President Remains Defiant, Row With PM Deepens

President Remains Defiant, Row With PM Deepens

Published May 16, 2011

The difference of opinion between President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir continues, as the president says he sees no reason to create ethical guidelines for the office of the presidency, and will not release to the media his written responses to the prime minister’s office.
As Grapevine reported, the idea of creating ethical guidelines for the president’s office arose from the conclusions reached by the Special Investigative Commission (SIC) on the conduct of government officials in the time leading up to the 2008 crash. Among their conclusions was that the president went beyond the requirements of his office by continuously advocating on behalf of Iceland’s businessmen abroad, as well as lauding them with awards here at home.
While the prime minister’s office has established ethical guidelines for all ministerial offices, the president has felt especially singled out. Eyjan reports the president as saying “it is incomprehensible why the office of the prime minister would meddle in matters of the president’s office”.
The president has apparently gone on the defensive towards the media as well. Vísir reports that while the prime minister’s office has given the media copies of its communications with the president, the president has refused to release to the media his own communications to the prime minister.
However, the prime minister has countered that, due to freedom of information laws in Iceland, the president does not have the power to deny the media these communications.
The president has previously called the idea of ethical guidelines for his office “an audacious intervention of the relationship between parliament and the office of the president”. A resolution on the matter does not appear to be coming any time soon.

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