From Iceland — Political Storm Rocks Iceland In Wake Of Leaked Recordings Of Parliamentarians

Political Storm Rocks Iceland In Wake Of Leaked Recordings Of Parliamentarians

Published November 30, 2018

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Resignations and investigations are in the cards in the wake of leaked recordings of parliamentarians engaging in abusive and degrading language about their predominantly female colleagues. One of the worst offenders in the recordings, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson of the Centre Party (seen above), remains defiant in the face of criticism.

As reported, a recording taken at the bar Klaustur on November 20 has Bergþór Ólason, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Anna Kolbrún Árnadóttir of the Centre Party, with Karl Gauti Hjaltason and Ólafur Ísleifsson of the People’s Party, all engaging in some frankly ugly discussions about the attractiveness and mental stability of several female colleagues. The recording was brought to light by Stundin and DV the day before yesterday.

Condemnation from other members of Parliament has been universal, and numerous parliamentarians have called for the Parliamentary Ethics Committee to investigate. But the matter doesn’t end there.

Fréttablaðið reports that at an emergency meeting of the People’s Party leadership held yesterday, Karl Gauti and Ólafur have been asked to resign as MPs for the party, and to surrender any other sensitive duties trusted to them. This is after both men told the press that they do not have any intentions of resigning.

Particularly defiant was Gunnar Bragi, who told Stöð 2 that he has no intention of resigning, but may consider quitting drinking. He was very active in the recorded conversations, who not only had plenty of abusive things to say about his female colleagues, but also appears to have a special amount of ire for Minister of Education Lilja Alfreðsdóttir. In the recordings, Gunnar Bragi can be heard calling her a “bitch” and saying that action should be taken against her.

He furthermore bragged that when he appointed disgraced former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde to his ambassadorship in Washington DC, he also appointed Left-Green parliamentarian Árni þór Sigurðsson as a distraction from Geir’s appointment; a move he says in the recordings means that the Independence Party now owes him a favour.

When confronted by reporters yesterday, Gunnar Bragi was adamant in his position that he saw no reason for him to resign. Rather, he believes the incident is “something we can learn from”, and that he was in fact lying when he bragged about his political manoeuvring.

In fact, the only person in this group who has stated that they are considering resigning is Anna Kolbrún, who was not an active participant in the conversation and was the only woman present for the recorded conversation.

As it stands now, what political consequences there will be in the wake of these recordings—if any—still remains to be seen.

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