“In short, I think this is a threat, not only politically, but to society,” says Dagur B. Eggertsson, Mayor of Reykjavík, when asked about a series of racist incidents in Iceland in recent weeks and years.
In the municipal election in 2014, the Progressive party got two city council members elected on the grounds of xenophobia against Muslims, when the candidates wanted to ban the building of a mosque in Reykjavík. Dagur said that he took the election strongly to heart and decided to exclude The Progressive Party entirely as an option for collaboration.
“I took the step to exclude the Progressive party unless they would clean up their act and they never did,” he said, adding: “The chairman of the party [at the time, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson] held back and they kind of seemed pleased to see the party go from 2% to 12%.”
Dagur says that the party capitalised on racism in the election without ever taking any responsibility for those actions.
This is especially unfortunate in the light of a newer scandal involving the acting chairman of the Progressive Party, Infrastructure Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, who was caught saying racist remarks in a party about a woman of colour last March. Sigurður Ingi apologised for those remarks, although his assistant initially and untruthfully told the media that the chairman never said those words.
Dagur says that he can’t work with someone that capitalizes on racism like the Progressive Party did in 2014 and added: “If I lose from that, politically, it’s worth it.”
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