Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, the President of Parliament, addressed the Icelandic Parliament today, starting off the first parliamentary session since news broke that six members of Parliament, who were drinking at a local bar in part during work hours, were recorded using abusive and degrading language about their female colleagues. Meanwhile, a new poll from Maskína shows that the vast majority of Icelanders want these six parliamentarians to resign.
The President announced that the speech used by these parliamentarians, in a public place, was both “indefensible and inexcusable”. He then extended apologies on behalf of Parliament to the country’s women, disabled, and queer community for the remarks of these parliamentarians. He confirmed that the matter has been taken up by Parliament’s executive committee to examine whether or not ethics violations were committed.
He also announced that Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson of the Centre Party, who featured prominently in the recordings and has gone on unpaid leave, will be replaced in the interim by Unnur María Óskarsdóttir. Bergþór Ólason of the Centre Party also announced he was going on leave, to be replaced by Jón Þór Þorvaldsson.
Ólafur Ísleifsson and Karl Gauti Hjaltason, the People’s Party MPs in the recordings, presented their announcement that they would continue working as Parliamentarians, but not on behalf of the People’s Party; rather, they will serve as an independent parliamentarians.
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.
Condemnation from other members of Parliament has been universal, and numerous parliamentarians have called for the Parliamentary Ethics Committee to investigate. Specifically, the MPs in question may have violated Articles 5 and 7 of Parliamentary Ethics Regulations, which concerns showing respect for Parliament and parliamentarians, and not to do something that damages the image of Parliament.
In related news, a new poll from Maskína shows that most Icelanders want these six to resign. Specifically, 91% want Gunnar Bragi; 90% want Bergþór; 86% want Sigmundur Davíð; 85% want Karl Gauti; 82% want Ólafur and 74% want Anna Kolbrún to resign.
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