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Monday News Edit: What Are Icelanders Talking About?

Monday News Edit: What Are Icelanders Talking About?

Alice Demurtas
Words by
Photos by
Wikimedia Commons
John Rogers

Published February 26, 2018

With no more weather-related complaints to issue, what has been on Icelanders’ minds as of late? Here’s a round-up of fresh debates, hot topics and crazy madness from these past few days.

According to a new report from Transparency International, corruption in Iceland has been on the rise for the past six years. In particular, lack of transparency and conflicts of interests seem to be the main factors influencing the ranking. Although the report still ranks Iceland as one of the least corrupted countries in the world, its steady rise in the index has been cause for concern especially among politicians. As Icelanders’ levels of trust in politicians hit an all-time low, our Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir proposed to put together a committee, whose job will be to find ways to fix the situation.

Needless to say, people haven’t been too pleased about it, especially in the wake of a local Child Protection Agency scandal. As Iceland prepares to apply for a seat on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, our Minister of Social Affairs and Equality has encouraged the nomination of former Child Protection Agency’s director Bragi Guðbrandsson as Iceland’s representative. Since last November, Bragi has been at the centre of accusations of poor work practices and mismanagement issued by former social workers. The Young Left Greens have issued a statement asking the Minister of Social Affairs to withdraw the nomination, while MP for the Pirate Party Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir has used this story as an example to explain people’s mistrust in politics. “I just call this an award for bad behaviour, and at the same time it’s an efficient way to absolve him from these problems,” Sunna told RÚV.

Interesting things don’t only happen at a national level. As the time for municipal elections draws nigh, political parties begin their selection process aimed at creating their lists of representatives. The one who has drawn the most attention so far seems to be the Independence Party. Eyþór Arnalds, one of the biggest investors in media company Árvakur (which owns Morgublaðið), was chosen by 60% of his party members as their leader in municipal elections. The man, who has clearly moved on from his punk, Tappi Tíkarrass phase, was made fun of for a hilarious promotional video where he promised to clean up Reykjavík while wearing an expensive suit. But the harshest criticism came when Áslaug Friðriksdóttir, who currently sits in the city council and has ended up second in the in-party election run, was set aside for a younger woman. The two leaders, who seemed to have come out of a Burberry ad, certainly look the part, but the decision has nonetheless caused cries of corruption.

Even more rage, however, comes from the circumcision nightmare that seems to never end. Those who are pro-ban claim that circumcision is a direct assault on the body of the child and goes against human rights, while religious groups have called this a personal attack on their traditional practices. After rounding up the opinions of local and foreign Jewish communities (whose input you can find in our upcoming issue), the Bishop of Iceland and the local Imam has have thrown in their two cents, along with local doctors. The debate seems far from over.

Correction: The original article stated that Bragi Guðbrandsson was at the centre of accusations of psychological abuse and sexual offences. This is incorrect, and has been amended.


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