From Iceland — Polarising In US Politics Not Going Anywhere, Icelandic Analyst Says

Polarising In US Politics Not Going Anywhere, Icelandic Analyst Says

Published January 7, 2021

Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Creative Commons via Flickr

Icelanders, as well as other nations, are quite shocked after a mob incited by outgoing US President Donald Trump attacked Capitol Hill in Washington last night after a rally with the president, where he repeated his false claims about voter fraud.

Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir, political scientist and one of Iceland’s best-known analysts when it comes to politics in the US told RÚV that nothing suggested that the deep polarising in the US was going anywhere. As a side note, she pointed out that 40-50 years ago, 60-80% of the American nation said that they could imagine being married to a person with an opposing political view. Today this number is 20%. She also points out that from the 80s to the 00s, it was not uncommon to see members of Congress vote with bills that the opposite party represented. This nearly never happens today, at least when it comes to the bigger and perhaps more controversial bills.

Icelandic leaders have condemned the attack on Capitol Hill. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Prime Minister, said on Twitter that the violence was disturbing and the democracy needed to be respected. The Minister of Justice, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir urged Donald Trump to condemn the mob he incited. The Foreign Minister of Iceland, Guðlaugur þór Þórðarson, said that any attacks on democratic institutions and undermining of rule of law should be condemned, which the sitting president in USA has still failed to do.

Other political leaders in Iceland have also commented on the situation. Logi Már Einarsson, the chairman of the Social Democratic party in Iceland, said that these events teach us that democracy is not a given thing. And this was a hard lesson to learn that simple truth. Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, leader of the centre-right Reform Party, said that this attack on the American democracy was Trump’s fault and that Icelanders need to learn from this and stop politics that incites polarisation.

The Icelandic public was also vocal about the situation. The main tone was shock and disbelief, many commented that the attack was an absolute farce, sharing photos of the rioters and videos. Many were surprised that such an attack could even happen in a “police state”, as many commented on and many compared the police reaction to the reaction that has been seen against the Black Lives Matter protests.

Icelanders have always had a good political relationship with the US, but also they have a lot of business interests with the US, which is one of Iceland’s biggest buyers when it comes to the nation’s exports. Therefore it has been a serious concern how politics are evolving in the country, in part because it can affect the Icelandic economy in various ways.

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