From Iceland — Independence Party In Uproar Over Fractured Coalition

Independence Party In Uproar Over Fractured Coalition

Published September 15, 2017

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Johann/ Commons

With the collapse of the shortest-lived parliamentary coalition in Icelandic history, and parties exploring their options regarding forming a new coalition or holding news elections, the Independence Party are handling the matter not by reflecting on what they did wrong; rather, they are directing their ire at Bright Future, the party which late last night elected to leave the coalition.

Brynjar Níelsson, an MP for the Independence Party, told listeners of radio station Rás 2 this morning that he doubts Bright Future left the coalition due to “a serious breach of trust”, as the party stated last night. Rather, he contends, “I think the coalition has burst because people have gotten annoyed with having little support in the polls,” referring to Bright Future’s dismal 3.7% ranking in last August’s Gallup poll. He went on to say that Bright Future is not really a political party but instead “some group of people who have no support and no substance”.

Minister of Justice Sigríður Andersen, herself deeply implicated in the scandal that led to the coalition’s demise, took an even stronger position on the matter, telling Rás 2: “I think this reflects an incredible amount of irresponsibility from this little party, which has four MPs but has expressed a willingness to work in the ruling coalition.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson took a more nuanced stance on the matter, telling RÚV that the situation is “very complicated”, adding, “The most important thing is for people to go over the matter calmly, and decide what the best thing to do is.”

As reported, news broke last night that Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson’s father, Benedikt Sveinsson, had provided a recommendation letter of “restored honour”, a legal procedure which clears one’s civil standing, for Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson, a man convicted of having raped his stepdaughter almost daily for 12 years. Bjarni, despite having been informed of this by the Minister of Justice last July, kept this matter to himself, and Sigríður refused to release information to the press about who recommended Hjalti should receive restored honour. That is, until a parliamentary committee ruled that the Ministry had gone beyond the bounds of the law in concealing this information, and compelled the Ministry to release this information to the press.

Once the news broke, Bright Future called an emergency party meeting, and shortly thereafter released a statement announcing their departure from the ruling coalition.

As it stands now, new elections appear the most likely outcome, although there may also be the formation of a new ruling coalition.

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