"Is This Democracy In Iceland?" - The Reykjavik Grapevine

“Is This Democracy In Iceland?”

Published April 8, 2016

Photos by
Art Bicnick

Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson did not take a French journalist’s questions about democracy in Iceland very well.

Media outlets from around the world were at parliament Wednesday evening when Iceland’s “new” government was announced, and France’s Le Petit Journal was amongst them.

When Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson was confronted by French journalist Martin Weill to explain how and why he intends to keep the coalition together while protesters are demanding parliamentary dissolution, Bjarni responded in a fashion that caught the attention of many Icelanders. A clip from the exchange can be seen here:

Bjarni responded to being informed of the protesters’ demands that they will have their chance to make themselves heard in parliamentary elections this autumn. Martin asked again if Bjarni intends to resign, and is ignored. But when asked, “Is this democracy in Iceland?”, Bjarni turned his attention to Martin once again and asked, “Where are you from?”

When Martin responded, Bjarni proceeds to count off four parliamentary elections – in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2016 – and then tells Martin that this is considered democracy.

A government minister from Iceland explaining to a journalist from France – which has been a democracy since the close of the 18th century – what democracy is has attracted the attention of numerous Icelanders.

“Seems to me this little French guy from Canal+ just smoked Bjarni. Is this democracy in Iceland?”

“Poor Bjarni – that’s an awful interview.”

“Amazing to see people tweeting that Bjarni did well. He might as well have just beat on his chest and howled.”

“Government arrogance on clear display for my french speaking friends.”

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


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