Uncertainty Surrounds Iceland's "New" Government - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Uncertainty Surrounds Iceland’s “New” Government

Published April 7, 2016

Photos by
Art Bicnick

Even Progressive Party MPs are less than happy with Iceland’s proposed new government, and opposition is growing.

As reported, Iceland’s new Prime Minister is Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, formerly the Minister of Agriculture and Fishing and a Progressive Party MP. Iceland’s outgoing Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, is to remain on as a regular member of parliament. Early elections will be held this autumn. Vísir reports that current Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson will fill Sigurður’s previous ministry, with former assistant to the outgoing Prime Minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir replacing Gunnar.

While Independence Party chairperson and Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson has promised that the opposition’s intention to submit a proposal to dissolve parliament will be responded to with “38 votes against it”, referring to the number of seats the ruling coalition holds, the new government is not as stable as Bjarni would probably like.

RÚV reports that Progressive Party MP Höskuldur Þórhallsson had voted against Sigmundur’s suggestion that Sigurður take over, on the grounds that he did not feel this proposal would increase people’s level of trust in the government. Another Progressive MP, Vigdís Hauksdóttir, was reportedly unhappy to be passed up for a ministerial position, and added that she had proposed parliamentary dissolution and immediate elections be held rather than put them off until autumn. When asked to explain her position further, she responded, “You have to talk to the guys who run the Progressive Party.”

Furthermore, not everyone is on board with the choice of new PM. Sigurður has publicly defended the Prime Minister since the Panama Papers story broke, going so far as to defend the use of offshore accounts by saying, “It is complicated to have money in Iceland.” Furthermore, as Kjarninn points out, the results of a Fréttablaðið/Stöð 2 poll done last March showed only about 3% of respondents saying they trusted Sigurður.

Sigurður dug in further on the subject of offshore accounts in parliament today, saying that he considers it “no big deal” to keep money in “low tax areas”.

Another round of protests have been announced to take place in front of parliament at 17:00, and some 3,700 Icelanders have pledged attendance at the time of this writing.

The opposition have promised they have every intention to push for a proposal to dissolve parliament and call for earlier elections.

For more on this continuing story, follow our Panama Papers tag on Grapevine.is/news.

Go travel with Grapevine tried and recommended tours by Grapevine. Fund Grapevine journalism by booking with us.


Show Me More!