From Iceland — Nation Divided Over Debt Relief Package

Nation Divided Over Debt Relief Package

Published November 14, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Ashkan Sahihi

With the government’s debt relief package only days old, the response from the public has been decidedly underwhelming.

According to a new poll conducted by Fréttablaðið, 41% said they were satisfied with the government’s new debt relief package, 32% were unsatisfied, 22% had no opinion at all, and 5% declined to respond. When calculated for only those people who had an opinion, the poll shows a divide of 56% to 44%, for those happy and unhappy respectively.

Where demographics are concerned, those over 50 were more likely to be satisfied than those from 18 to 49 years old. Interestingly, Reykjavík was the only area where there were more people unhappy than happy with the package. Perhaps unsurprisingly, voters for the Progressive Party were the most pleased with their party’s biggest campaign promise, with a full 95% expressing support. 84% of voters of the Progressives’ partner in the ruling coalition – the Independence Party – were also satisfied. Support for the debt relief package was significantly less amongst opposition voters.

The debt relief package was one of the Progressive Party’s leading campaign points during the 2013 elections, and drummed up a lot of support for the party. Since elections, delays and modifications of the programme drew criticism, especially from the opposition parties, who accused the Progressives of having made an empty promise for votes.

Last Monday, however, Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson, amongst other guests, unveiled the package to the general public, and online applications for possible debt relief were opened. Since then, numerous Icelanders have applied, in the hopes of being able to pay down some of the money they owe for homes purchased before the 2008 crash.


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