From Iceland — Iceland's Independence Celebrations Under Shadow Of Racist Speaker, Midwives' Strike

Iceland’s Independence Celebrations Under Shadow Of Racist Speaker, Midwives’ Strike

Published July 18, 2018

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Today, Iceland celebrates the 100th anniversary of signing the Union Treaty, which paved the way for the country’s independence from Denmark. To mark the occasion, a special parliamentary session is being held at Þingvellir, but the event is already mired in controversy.

On this day in 1918, Iceland and Denmark signed the Union Treaty, which went into effect on December 1 of that year, marking the beginning of Iceland’s sovereignty. In celebration, a special parliamentary session is being held at Þingvellir today, but many Icelanders are troubled by the keynote speaker: Pia Kjærsgaard, of the Danish People’s Party, who is also the parliamentary president of Denmark.

Pia has on many occasions expressed anti-immigrant sentiment, in particular against Muslims, and continues to maintain a position of advocating for “Danish values”. Her presence at the festival has prompted the Pirate Party to not attend, in protest, RÚV reports.

The event has also been criticised for costing about 80 million ISK, Kjarninn reports, kicking off the same day Iceland’s midwives have begun an overtime strike, as the government has maintained that they do not have the funds to raise their wages.

This last point has caused considerable consternation as it has come to light that the estimated yearly cost for all 22 of government minister assistants is about 427 million ISK.

The midwives’ strike is already putting the pressure on hospital staff to seek emergency measures that could make up for the loss. The government has yet to respond to the midwives with a counter-offer that the midwives find acceptable.

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