Tremors Within The Ruling Coalition - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Tremors Within The Ruling Coalition

Published April 8, 2016

Photos by
Paul Fontaine

Not every government MP is on board with the plan the leadership decided on for the ruling coalition.

Numerous members of the Icelandic parliament have come forward in the wake of the formation of a “new” coalition. As reported, the Progressives will continue to lead the coalition, and new elections are planned on being held this autumn.

However, while the opposition will continue to push for the dissolution of parliament and earlier elections, even some MPs of the ruling coalition have expressed doubts.

Independence Party MP Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir told viewers of RÚV’s news roundtable discussion show Kastljósið that the coalition should have done more to inspire trust from the general public, including earlier elections.

“I would have voted for elections, but another option could have been to have another kind of government, where the leading figures in this major leak could have stepped aside while the matter was examined more closely,” she said. “All politicians know that trust is the foundation for political results. We all need to reflect upon ourselves and look at how we can build that trust. It has to go together – what a person says, and what a person does.”

Here, Unnur Brá is also referring to Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson and Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal, both of whom have also been implicated in the Panama Papers leak.

RÚV reports that Progressive Party MP Höskuldur Þórhallsson had voted against former Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson’s suggestion that Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson take over, on the grounds that he did not feel this proposal would increase people’s level of trust in the government. Furthermore, he told Vísir that outgoing Sigmundur should have vacated his parliamentary seat. He will be staying on as a regular member of parliament for the Progressives.

In fact, many Progressives in the countryside are reportedly calling for Sigmundur to vacate his position as party chairperson, RÚV reports.

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.”

If the demands of protesters and the opposition, or the uncertainties within the ruling coalition itself, have been affecting Bjarni in any way, he has not been showing it. Addressing parliament today, Vísir reports, he described the state of the country at the moment by saying, “Times have never been brighter than they are right now.”

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

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