Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson and Bergþór Ólason, both MPs for the Centre Party who featured prominently in the Klausturgate recordings speaking abusively about their female colleagues, returned to Parliament yesterday. They were not well received, and Gunnar Bragi in particular is on the defensive.
Vísir spoke with several MPs who were present yesterday, all of whom described the atmosphere in Parliament as uncomfortable and tense. Sara Elísa Þórðardóttir, an alternate MP for the Pirate Party, summed up the feelings of many of the parliamentarians interviewed:
“The mood in Parliament can easily be called uncomfortable and toxic. I personally felt awful, but that won’t affect the way I do my job. I’ll pour myself into my work at the behest of my voters. This is a bad situation. I feel really uncomfortable around these men and know that more people feel the same way. We are shocked.”
Amongst those who were the most strongly affected by the sudden return of Gunnar Bragi was the Minister of Culture and Education, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir. As the Klausturgate recordings revealed, 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. That being the case, it is unsurprising that she reportedly twice walked out of Parliament, but not without having some words with Gunnar Bragi. What she said to him is still unknown, and Gunnar Bragi isn’t saying.
Gunnar Bragi has been on the defensive in the wake of this day. While expressing regret for not warning Lilja that he was returning to Parliament—in fact, he says it’s what he regrets the most—he engaged in a moral equivalency when discussing the Klausturgate recordings:
“Who are the victims? They are naturally those who we hurt, but they are also those who were recorded illegally at this bar. I understand just fine that those people who were discussed at this bar were a little upset, but at the same time one could say: should we let everyone know, should we pick one person out of this group or something like that?”
Most incredibly of all, as Kjarninn reports, Gunnar Bragi denies even remembering saying any of the things he said in the Klausturgate recordings, contending that he was in the midst of a 36-hour blackout, contending that he even lost his clothes on the night in question. It bears mentioning that the six parliamentarians recorded at Klaustur had actually still been on the clock at Parliament.