From Iceland — Brutal Headlines

Brutal Headlines

Published September 22, 2017

Valur Grettisson

So, the government collapsed in Iceland. Again. For the third time last ten years, in fact. The reasons are a little bit intangible. In a nutshell, this is a story about secretiveness, the weird connections between the father of our Prime Minister and a convicted paedophile, and a strange law about “restoring honor”.

In short, this is a confusing kind of story.

The political party, Bright Future, decided to end the government. They said it was because of breach of confidence. The Prime Minister didn’t inform the coalition party that his father had vouched for a paedophile that wanted his honour restored. The case was amongst others in the Ministry of Justice, but the Minister didn’t want to reveal who these people were that vouched for the criminals. She is accused of hiding this information.

As you can see, this is hard to explain. For example, some media, as well as the Reykjavík Grapevine, said in the beginning that by restoring honor, the criminal records would disappear as well. This is not accurate, but an understandable mistake. You get some basic civil rights back, like you can run for parliament or president. You can also go back to work as a lawyer. But media are not allowed to write about the crimes afterwards. That’s part of the deal.

The foreign press reported largely about this story in a correct way. But the members of the Independence Party were shocked by the headlines. For example, Daily Mail reported like this:

“Iceland’s government collapses following bid by PM’s father to clear the name of a paedophile who raped his step-daughter daily for 12 years, prompting snap election.”

Well, it’s brutal – and long – but accurate.

The New York Post reported like this: „Chaos in Iceland after prime minister’s father tries to clear pedophile’s name“.

Chaos is an overstatement, but the headlines captive the core of the case nonetheless.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs tried to pin the bad press on an MP of the Pirate Party that said this was like an Icelandic Jimmy Savile case. Well, it’s not. It’s a really bad comparison in every aspect.

To be honest, it’s nothing like the world has seen before. It’s just weird and sad. But the headlines are well deserved, and the ministers of the Independence Party are the only ones to blame. That includes when Edward Snowden misunderstood the whole thing and tweeted about it. Because when you start a fire, and it spreads, it’s always on you, even when you accidentally burn down the house next door.

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