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Icelandic Prime Minister Speaks Up About Lack Of Transparency In Government

Icelandic Prime Minister Speaks Up About Lack Of Transparency In Government

Alice Demurtas
Words by
Photos by
Baldur Kristjánsson
Art Bicnick
Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International

Published March 13, 2018

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir is currently working on a set of regulations aimed at increasing transparency within government institutions, RÚV reports.

Following a scandal involving the outstanding travel expenses of a local MP and various allegations of corruption, Katrín has recently expressed concerns regarding the populations’ low levels of trust in politicians. Since then, she has been working on implementing measures that aim at sharing public information in a more efficient way.

Changing attitudes

The decision comes on the same day as Tryggvi Gunnarsson’s annual parliamentary report for the year 2016. Tryggvi, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, compared the Icelandic situation to that of other Nordic countries during a meeting of the Constitutional and Supervisory Committee, stressing that his foreign colleagues are often surprised about the state of Icelandic politics.

“It seems that Icelandic governments have been taking very little initiative when it comes to sharing information with the public,” he said. “In fact, they tend not to act until there is some excitement around an issue, or until someone specifically makes a request to obtain information, so I think it’s crucial that we change the general attitudes towards transparency.”

One step forward..

Although Katrín has claimed to have taken into accounts Tryggvi’s report, the regulations she is working on still leave to the various Ministry the possibility to take or not take initiative when it comes to sharing information. In particular, it only requires Ministries to create and publish a plan listing the kind of information that the Ministries will agree to publish. It’s still unclear what kind of data Katrín is referring to, but she expects the measure to be implemented next month.

These regulations are still miles away from the levels of transparency that municipalities like Reykjavík have been trying to encourage in the past year. Nevertheless, Katrín also points out that a complete review of the Freedom of Information Law is in the works, and that Iceland needs to look at neighbouring countries like Norway for good examples of institutional transparency.


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