From Iceland — Opposition To Call For New Elections

Opposition To Call For New Elections

Published March 31, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The parliamentary opposition will submit a proposal calling for the dissolution of parliament and early elections in the wake of recent news that at least three government ministers – including Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson – have kept money in offshore tax shelters.

Opposition leadership will be meeting with the Constitutional and Supervisory Committee to go over the procedures involved. Árni Páll Árnason, the chairperson of the Social Democrats, told RÚV that “information was deliberately kept hidden from the people before the previous elections”, compelling the opposition to put the matter forward.

The dissolution of parliament would lead to new elections shortly thereafter. This has happened ten times in the history of the Icelandic parliament, most recently – and most notably – in the wake of concerted protests in 2009.

However, it is the Prime Minister who calls for the dissolution of parliament, and as he is embroiled in the scandal that has prompted the opposition’s proposal, the chances of dissolution could be diminished. Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson told Vísir he considers it unlikely that Independence Party MPs will vote in favour of dissolution.

As reported, Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal and Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson have both come forward admitting to having moved money into offshore bank accounts. Although both contend this money has all been reported to tax authorities, Bjarni went so far as to say he had forgotten he had an offshore account.

Meanwhile, Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir, the wife of Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, made a post to Facebook revealing that she has been keeping an undisclosed amount of family inheritance money in a company called Wintris Inc. This money is kept in the British Virgin Islands, a popular tax haven, but Anna contends that the Icelandic tax office is well aware of this money, and everything is completely legal and above board.

However, Wintris Inc. is also a claimant against Landsbanki Íslands, Glitnir and Kaupthing to the tune of about half a billion ISK. Furthermore, Kjarninn has repeatedly asked for information regarding assets owned by government officials or members of their family that are being kept overseas, to no avail.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly advocated for the strength of the indexed Icelandic króna and the importance of keeping assets within the country. In addition, he has also repeatedly described bank claimants as “vultures” who are potentially damaging to the Icelandic economy.

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