From Iceland — Referendum Protests Continue

Referendum Protests Continue

Published March 10, 2014

Nearly 4,000 people gathered in protest in front of parliament yesterday, whilst nearly 20% of the voting population has signed a petition calling for a public referendum on whether or not to continue European Union accession talks.

Vísir reports that police counted nearly 4,000 at yesterday’s protests, despite cold, snow and high winds. Those gathered object to the government’s recent decision to end accession talks with the EU.

At the same time, over 48,000 people – 20% of Iceland’s qualified voters – have signed a petition calling for the referendum.

As reported, both parties of the ruling coalition promised a public referendum on continuing accession talks before last year’s elections. Independence Party chairperson Bjarni Benediktsson recently said that whilst he believes a referendum would be “unrealistic”, the coalition is open to other ways for people to have an influence on the decision.

EU accession talks were put on hold before elections last April. EU officials have emphasised that there is no rush to begin talks again, and that the Icelandic government was never given a timeframe ultimatum on the matter.

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