Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Icelandic Politics.

Today in Austurvöllur Square marked the seventh day of protests over the scandal initiated here by the Panama Papers which revealed that the (now former) Prime Minister Sigmundur Davið Gunnlaugsson is holding assets in an offshore tax haven in his wife's name after pledging to rid Iceland of corruption and people avoiding paying their taxes.

He has stepped down as Prime Minister but is still an MP and chairman of the party. He has elevated one of his friends from within the cabinet to Prime Minister and a motion to dissolve the government which was put forward by the opposition has been defeated by the ruling coalition using all its votes apart from one to vote against it.

New parliamentary elections are now expected in the autumn after the new President has been elected here. It will once again be a busy year at the polls.

Support for the ruling coalition has been sliding consistently ever since they were elected and has now hit an all-time low. Sigmundur Davið's Progressive Party did not achieve the highest amount of votes in the last election but were given the opportunity to form the government by the President as they had achieved the highest swing in voting percentage of all the parties. It is a move that the President undoubtedly now regrets.

Their coalition partners the Independence Party actually received the highest percentage of votes but took a back seat as Sigmundur Davið became Prime Minister and the leader of the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson became his deputy.

Many people in Iceland see the moves within the government as nothing more than superficial reshuffling and want new elections as soon as possible so that the people can have their say once again over who will lead the country.

According to recent polls the Icelandic Pirate Party would now receive a considerable slice of the vote in any new elections and it would be difficult to see any new government being formed without them. It would seem that 2016 will once again be a year of considerable change in Iceland as eight years on the ghosts of the 2008 crash continue to haunt them.

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