Vísir/Fréttablaðið today published a poll indicating that two-thirds of the Icelandic population would rather not see alcohol sold in grocery stores.
Recently proposed changes
Last month, Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Árnason was first speaker for a proposal to amend the law on retail in alcohol and tobacco, and other related legislature, which would allow any private enterprise with a retail-permit to sell alcoholic beverages. As it is, the State reserves monopoly in that market, through its liquor stores, and has done so since the end of general prohibition in 1922.
Introducing the proposal, Vilhjálmur said that its aim was “to approach the spirit of our times, follow its process and align with what the people in this country want.” In its current form, the change would make all kinds of alcoholic beverages available in grocery stores, strong liquor included, rather than only milder forms. Vilhjálmur has explained that he considers this general approach necessary for access in the countryside to be equal to that in more densely populated areas.
In Vísir’s poll, 92% of the 801 correspondents polled, stated an opinion. As already mentioned, 67% of those were against the proposal. Interviewed by Vísir, Vilhjálmur, a former police officer, who professes never to have tasted alcohol, expressed his surprise at the poll’s results. He said that it was not in line with earlier polls nor with the support he had felt among the public.
A similar amendment was last proposed on January 18, 2009, two days before the so-called cutlery revolution gained the momentum that lead to the downfall of the Independence Party’s and the social-democrat Coalition’s government. It has become somewhat traditional that young Independence Party MPs propose such a change, left-wingers scold them for it, and the proposal eventually evaporates.