As parliamentary sessions resumed yesterday after a two week Easter break, many MPs found themselves wondering about the whereabouts of Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, reports Vísir.
While the Prime Minister did not show up for yesterday’s session (despite Alþingi Speaker Einar K. Guðfinnsson asking him to) he did find time to check out an ice hockey match between Iceland and Belgium, posting his congratulations on Iceland’s win to his Facebook page.
“The general strike looms over us,” said head of the Left Greens, MP Katrín Jakobsdóttir, at yesterday’s parliamentary session. “We read news that the strike could compromise the safety of healthcare patients and the honourable Prime Minister who presides over the Progressive Party tells us, both members of parliament and the citizens of this country, that the plan is to settle this before parliamentary sessions end this summer. But to do that we have, what? Eighteen days.”
As reported, with little room for agreement between labour and management on the subject of increasing the minimum wage, a series of strikes are likely to begin at the end of the month, culminating in a general strike in late May. In all, if negotiations are not reached some 50,000 workers, hailing from many different fields and industries, would strike.
Bright Future Party MP Róbert Marshall added that the PM’s absence reiterated the point that “this is the most ridiculously lousy government ever seen in the history of Icelandic politics.”
This is not the first time that Sigmundur Davíð has been criticised for not attending parliamentary sessions. In mid-December 2014, with a mere two weeks to settle the upcoming State Treasury Budget and discuss the national doctor’s strike, the Prime Minister came under fire for going on holiday without officially notifying parliament in the Alþingi Absence Registry.
The Grapevine’s reportage of that incident caused quite the controversy at the time.