The ruling coalition of Reykjavík city council has decided not to invite the Progressives to take part in any of the city’s councils and committees, as the city council president does not believe the party is “suitable” for the jobs.
“We in the ruling coalition have had great doubts about whether the Progressives are a governance-suitable party, and we do not see any reason to engage in more cooperation with them than we need to,” said City Council President Sóley Tómasdóttir of the Left-Greens.
Sóley was asked if the decision had anything to do with the anti-Muslim rhetoric that swept the Progressives from zero projected seats a week before elections to winning two seats after ballots were counted.
“That discussion didn’t help the party,” she said. “I think we in the ruling coalition are all in agreement that parties in government speak respectfully about all groups in our society, and respect the diversity which we have.”
The decision has put the Progressives on the defensive, RÚV reports, as a statement from the party contends they are now “alone in the opposition”, accusing the Independence Party of “hiding under the skirts of the majority” – an accusation Independence Party councilperson Halldór Halldórsson dismissed.
“There was an opportunity to increase our number of seats on committees and councils,” he told reporters. “Of course we took it.”
As reported, Progressive mayoral candidate Sveinbjörg Birna Sveinbjörsdóttir announced one week before elections that she would reverse a decision made last year by Reykjavík City Council to grant a plot of land for the building of a mosque. In the days that followed, other Progressives joined in, with their campaign manager publicly asking, “Since when were Muslims a minority?”. On the night before the elections, Sveinbjörg told Stöð 2 viewers she was worried that an influx of Muslims in Iceland could lead to forced marriages becoming a problem in this country, and said she wanted to “open a discussion on freedom of religion” in Iceland.