What Are Icelanders Talking About?
: Sparks A-Flyin' In Your Newsfeed


What Are Icelanders Talking About?
: Sparks A-Flyin’ In Your Newsfeed

Published September 27, 2019

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Possibly the hottest topic in Iceland right now is the controversy within the ranks of the police. It turns out that National Police Commissioner Haraldur Johannessen is not a popular guy within his own ranks. Eight out of Iceland’s nine police chiefs have filed statements of no confidence against him, as well as the Police Federation of Iceland. They have all characterised his tenure—an office he has held since 1998—has been marred by mismanagement, unnecessary spending, and what Arinbjörn Snorrason, chair of the Reykjavík Police Officers Union, called “ruling by fear”. The highest authority over the police, Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, has stated that while Haraldur will not be stepping down, that her Ministry is working on “reorganising and restructuring” the police hierarchy. Such changes may see Haraldur pushed into an obscure middle-management position to mollify him. Only time will tell.

People are both surprised and not surprised by recent polling which shows the Independence Party at their lowest levels of support ever. Yes, even lower than right after the banks collapsed. On the one hand, this is unsurprising given the bevvy of unpopular policy positions the party has taken up. On the other hand, it is a little bit surprising, given that the Independence Party is more than a political party; it’s an Icelandic cultural institution, and their levels of support are usually pretty stable, even in times of tremendous crisis. Parliamentary elections will be held in 2021, barring any unforeseen circumstances, so it’s entirely possible this situation won’t last long.

Icelanders took part in the Global Climate Strike held on September 20th, which stands to reason given that the climate crisis is melting our glaciers, which could lead to more volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and our shorelines are already being drastically affected. Hundreds of Icelanders marched through downtown Reykjavík to Austurvöllur, the square in front of Parliament, to demand the government takes action. Meanwhile on social media, some Icelanders have swallowed the alt-right talking points against Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, but these Icelanders are very few and far between, and are largely shouted down by people who actually would rather not see the end of the world in their lifetimes. Imagine that.

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