Minister of Education Lilja Alfreðsdóttir spoke candidly on Icelandic public broadcasting last night about her reactions to the Klausturgate recordings, part of which featured three MPs from the Centre Party speaking abusively about her.
The three MPs in question are Bergþór Ólason, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, and Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, the latter two of which used to be in the Progressive Party, which Lilja belongs to. While the Progressives are in the ruling coalition, the Centre Party is in the opposition.
In the recordings, Both Gunnar Bragi and Bergþór can be heard referring to her as a “bitch”, saying that she uses her charms to control men, while discussing her attractiveness in a crude manner, all concluding that action must be taken against her. Lilja sat down for an interview with Kastljós, a news discussion programme on Icelandic public broadcasting station RÚV, where she minced no words in her response.
“I experience this as violence,” Lilja said. “They are thugs. I’m telling you this is quite clear in my mind. … I just couldn’t believe it. That men could speak in this manner, and I underline that this is definitely violence.”
She said that none of these three men have called her, and said that their decision to continue being members of Parliament (although Gunnar Bragi and Bergþór are both on leave), “shows disrespect. I don’t think they grasp the seriousness of the situation. I believe that strong individuals would have shown regret, would have shouldered responsibility for what was said.”
Lilja also indicated that the three men have likely committed political suicide, and that just seeing Bergþór’s face on social media gave her an immediate and upsetting reaction. “When I saw the picture, I was startled. I found it uncomfortable to see his face. That’s when I realised that I had been viciously attacked. I will not accept this. That’s why I have also appeared here [for the interview]. Many people have wanted to discuss this matter with me. I just want to make it perfectly clear that this behaviour of theirs is unacceptable. We do not want Icelandic society to be like this. This is also for the country’s daughters and mothers. We don’t want to read this about somebody.”