Well, the dust is settling after the uproar of a couple of days ago, when parliament voted to indict former PM Geir Haarde for his involvement in the economic collapse.
It’s amazing to observe just how emotional the whole matter is for the Icelandic people — it clearly touches the rawest, most sensitive nerve running through this nation. Or perhaps it isn’t so strange — after all, the meltdown is the greatest catastrophe to befall this country in decades, and it was man-made. Yesterday marked a full two years since the first bank collapsed, and this nation has not been the same since. It literally turned life upside down for many, many people.
I wrote in the last post that I felt it was a sad day in Icelandic history, and that I felt Althingi had sunk to new lows. My remarks were variously interpreted, with some folks clearly believing I was turning all IP on them and didn’t want Geir indicted. That is not what I meant. I was simply expressing my doubts that one man could be made responsible for a colossal mess that was many years in the making.
I was also making a general reference to the circus that has prevailed in the Icelandic parliament for the last few days [weeks, months?] with people slagging each other off and doing everything they can to divert attention from the Big Issues by bickering and arguing about the small stuff. For instance fighting over whether people voting for or against the indictments are/were driven by political revenge or partisan interests and attacking their persons in the process. It is particularly sickening to see how some MPs and others have attacked the members of the parliamentary committee that prepared the report that recommended the indictments. From what I can tell that report was objective and professional, but some people seem to insist on shooting the messenger.
In the best of all possible worlds, Icelandic parliamentarians would have voted on this issue like adults, with mutual respect for each others’ decisions, and then moved on to the more important issue, which is to implement the OTHER recommendations that came out of the report. Because the recommendation to indict these four individuals was only one part of it — the other parts dealt with parliamentary reform, how the Icelandic Althingi can and should implement new and improved work processes to strengthen it and enable it to serve its function more effectively. Instead, we have the various parties up against each other, and ominous signs that they’ll do everything they can to thwart each other’s progress in Althingi for the remainder of the election term — out of revenge.
In any case, now that I’ve had a chance to sleep on it [twice], I’m coming around to thinking that the decision to indict Geir is probably the right one. After all, he was the captain of the ship, and the ship ran aground. While he was captain, he enjoyed all the benefits of being captain, so it’s only right that he carry the responsibilities, as well. This is, of course, purely from a layman’s perspective — I have no grounds for knowing whether all of this will hold up in court [thank goodness]. I’ll leave that to the judge presiding over his trial.
* There is a phrase from a well-known children’s book by Thorbjörn Egner that has become almost an idiom in the Icelandic language: And all the animals in the forest should be friends. Clearly we have the opposite of that happening in Althingi.