From Iceland — Katrín Jakobsdóttir Joins Progressive International, Warns of Right-Wing Surge

Katrín Jakobsdóttir Joins Progressive International, Warns of Right-Wing Surge

Published May 14, 2020

Poppy Askham
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has taken a seat on the advisory council for Progressive International, a new left-wing alliance.

The advisory council, of which Katrín is now a member, is a group of left-wing politicians, activists and intellectuals who are responsible for Progressive International’s strategy decisions. Other members include Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy and Yanis Varoufakis.

Progressive International launched this month in response to a call for “progressives of the world to unite” issued by Democracy in Europe Movement and the Sanders Institute in 2018.

Its members strive to create a democratic, peaceful, egalitarian, sustainable world, rejecting capitalist principles. So far the alliance has backed campaigns for a global green new deal and to cancel the debt of countries in the Global South.

Katrín will host the inaugural advisory council convention in Reykjavík in September, pandemic permitting.

In a statement on the Progressive International website, Katrín warned that the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to a wave of nationalism, authoritarianism and injustice across the globe. In this time of crisis she believes international co-operation is the only solution.

Katrín warns that leaders may use the pandemic as a cover to erode civil liberties. Although stressing that certain draconian measures are vital to contain the virus, she expressed concern about restrictions on freedom of expression and greater use of surveillance technologies. She also fears right-wing leaders may use the crisis to restrict women’s reproductive rights and to strip away refugees’ legal protections.

Another key concern is that the pandemic may “deepen divisions between states and within them”. Discriminatory border restrictions, xenophobia and a perceived “external danger” may stoke the fires of nationalism she claims, citing the political impact of world war two.

She explains that the crisis may exacerbate economic disparities between the Global South and richer northern countries. Poorer nations in the southern hemisphere will be worst hit by discriminatory trade restrictions, possibly facing dangerous shortages of much needed supplies. Katrín stresses that it is far easier to shield the vulnerable and practise social distancing in wealthier communities and countries.

Katrín also takes the opportunity to praise Iceland’s welfare state. “The Covid outbreak has demonstrated, once again, that universal healthcare and robust welfare systems are not only essential ingredients of social justice but also of properly functioning societies”.

The full statement, which is well worth a read, is available here.

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