Most Icelanders – from every political party – want to vote on whether or not to complete accession talks with the European Union. The ruling coalition’s decision to end talks also contradicts promises they made before elections to put the matter up for public referendum.
According to a poll conducted by newspaper Fréttablaðið and television station Stöð 2 last January, the majority of Icelanders support the referendum – including those who support the Independence Party and the Progressives, the two parties which ended accession talks.
68.9% of Progressives and 65.3% of Independence Party supporters said that they want the question of continuing the talks put up for referendum. The same can be said for 65.6% of Left-Green voters, 80.8% of Social Democrats, 83.9% of Pirates and 84.8% of those who support for Bright Future.
RÚV today published a copy of an e-mail that was sent to a voter from the office of the Progressive Party on election day last April. Therein, a voter asked whether or not the accession talk question would be put up for public referendum if the Progressives took control of the government. Progressive Anna Kolbrún Árnadóttir responded, saying, “It is clearly stated in our platform that accession talks will not be continued unless a public referendum calls for it.” The voter responded to the e-mail, “Thank you, hope I can trust that. Going to the voting booth.”
In fact, both parties of the ruling coalition promised a public referendum on whether or not to continue accession talks. According to the official platform of the Independence Party during last year’s parliamentary election, voters were promised that “the people will take the decision on EU accession by public referendum during the election term.”
Further, the joint position of the ruling coalition on the matter is that, whilst accession talks were on hold, “accession talks will go no further except by following a public referendum” – by ending talks now, a public referendum on whether to continue them seems unlikely at best.
About 4,000 people attended protests in front of parliament yesterday objecting to the broken promise, with more protests planned today. Also, at the time of this writing over 25,000 Icelanders have signed a petition calling for the referendum to move forward.