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Are we due for elections?

So parliament reconvened last week after the holidays and went right into fighting over discussing the report by the parliamentary committee that I wrote about here.

There was much anticipation yesterday when PM Jóhanna took to the podium, since she had remained mum about her views on the report and everyone was eager to hear what she had to say. In short, she wound up criticizing the report and expressing her view that its conclusions were severely flawed.

This is not a view shared by many of her coalition partners in the Left-Green Party. Consequently it should not surprise anyone that the coalition appears to be on pretty shaky ground right about now.

As if it wasn’t before.

Meanwhile, the voices among the general public calling for new elections are getting more insistent. For a time today, every second Facebook status I read said something about wanting to call an election, and apparently a meeting was called at IP headquarters this afternoon to discuss the situation.

The rumour, though, is that none of the political parties want elections right now because they’re afraid of what’s being called the “Best Effect” — i.e. that a new movement akin to the Best Party last spring will come out of nowhere and gobble up votes. And, you know, it would not surprise me in the least if we saw such a movement evolve on a national scale sometime in the next few weeks.

Whatever happens, it’s pretty clear that this is going to be a winter of discontent. The public is absolutely fed up with the lameness of parliament right now, this incessant arguing and bickering and stalling and blowing things out of their asses — while the whole time the public bleeds.*

* Report in Fréttablaðið yesterday: the banks currently own around 1,500 properties, most of which are vacant. Those are properties that have been repossessed in the wake of the economic collapse. As far as I can tell that figure does not incorporate the number of properties repossessed by the State Housing Fund.

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  • Karen* September 21, 2010, 8:45 pm

    Is there a large homeless problem then? What with 1500 (or more) vacant properties and all? That seems…. entirely out of hand in a country as small as Iceland.

  • Rik Hardy September 21, 2010, 8:57 pm

    Time to found our Bloggers’ Party.
    Intelligent, articulate people, who pay attention and care more about the society they live in than the decadent, fossilized party-politicians do.
    Those are people who just can’t imagine things ever being done differently from how they have been done for the last twenty years, and they’re fine with that.

  • Gestur Erlendsson September 21, 2010, 9:11 pm

    Yeah, Alda, let’s hope that, if a new party comes along it won’t be another Best party, but a serious political movement intended to start getting some action.

  • RLJ September 21, 2010, 9:50 pm

    Just guessing, Karen, but I expect most if not all of those 1500 vacant properties were second homes or owned by businesses. If anyone has actually been evicted from their family home, the press has been very, very quiet about it (inconceivable, because the opposition-owned press would have a field day, delighting in the misery and blaming the incumbents.). So I actually don’t think that has happened. It’s like a big bottle of champagne is being shaken over and over and we are all still waiting for it to pop.

    As for the report, I think JS is wrong on this; not because I assume any of them to be guilty, but precisely because I don’t think it is up to me (or JS) to decide that. If they are squeaky clean, they should be delighted to have the opportunity to clear their names before an independent and impartial tribunal. Geir Haarde seems pretty confident (although beginning, admittedly, to appear nearly as deranged as his puppet master).

    What’s that? The landsdómar is made up of the Supreme Court judges, you say? Ah…

  • Chris September 21, 2010, 10:03 pm

    I can understand the peoples wish for fresh people. The grand question is: Where do they come from? Somebody like Jón Gnarr going for the MP position would be great.

  • alda September 21, 2010, 10:14 pm

    Actually RLJ, there have been many evictions. DV did have a field day about it last winter. And the group “Heimavarnarliðið” was conceived as a response to that. My friend Jo did a photo essay (and blog post) about one such eviction here: http://jodusiernoeder.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/island-pa-billigsalg/

    The report in Fréttablaðið stated that some of those properties are currently being rented to the people who have had them repossessed. So no — this is not just a “luxury problem” of second homes and such.

  • James September 22, 2010, 1:30 am

    So, after her time finally came, she turned from a radical to a conservative. Time to start banging the pots and pans again!

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland September 22, 2010, 5:10 am

    Seize power now while you can Alda, I would like to nominate myself as your minister for finance, give me the keys to your nations treasury and my problems sorry Iceland’s problems will be over.

  • Easy September 22, 2010, 12:06 pm

    She has finally shown her REAL colors.
    ohh yes, but I can still hear the : “go johanna”, “you go girl”.
    They are all one and the same.
    ….told you so!

  • Andrew September 22, 2010, 1:49 pm

    It seems that the Icelandic people need to have a second revolt! The historic political parties are obviously not up to it. Therefore, entirely new political parties are needed. Perhaps you might like to set one up! 🙂

  • Rik Hardy September 22, 2010, 3:46 pm

    Please, don’t let Iceland go the way Africa went after the British left…
    I’m afraid the clown we have as the mayor of Reykjavik might just be the first step on the way to getting our very own Robert Mugabe running the country.
    As Andrew says, the current system is clearly not up to it, and that leaves a hole to be filled – and holes like that attract some very bad people.
    I’m up for Menntamálaráðherra (Minister of Culture) when Alda takes on the job of Prime Minister, and I suggest merging Culture and Media into one ministry, with any media director/manager obliged to have a solid cultural background in one of the classical disciplines.
    Þorvaldur Gylfason is also a must in economics.
    Eva Joly would be an ideal Justice Minister, and this might be usefully combined with the Social Services, but of course she has other matters on her hands which have nothing to do with Iceland.

    Now, when do we start?
    You don’t think I’m serious?
    Well, just look at Jón Gnarr… (I love him, by the way)

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland September 22, 2010, 4:21 pm

    @Andrew yeah I know invite Sweden Democrats over that would really get the ball rolling, shock horror result over in Sweden
    http://www.thelocal.se/29118/20100919/

    Meanwhile in Ireland ours will hang on like grim death to last moment 2012 wait a moment according to the Maya calender the world is due to end then, those crafty Fianna Fail politicians in Dublin ha ha

  • Mark September 22, 2010, 5:26 pm

    @Alda

    I don’t mean to be a vulture but are all these apartments available to buy at a good price yet? Is there a website to view them?

  • Rik Hardy September 22, 2010, 7:00 pm

    Sure, Mark.
    Just go to
    http://johnasgeir/bjorggolfur/laruswwelding_properties/countries/galaxies/dimensions.org
    Then do a search for anyone in the Sjálfstæðisflokkur, Framsóknarflokkur or Samfylkinginn. They should be able to help
    It only costs half of your pension plus one of your children to log in.

  • joeinvegas September 22, 2010, 9:04 pm

    Wow, that sounds a lot like the US right now. Las Vegas has a huge number of repossessed properties, several on my block alone, and over 14.4% unemployment, not counting those that have given up looking. Our local and state governments are broke, and the national government is so tied up in politics that not much gets done of real value, while our borrowing is going up like crazy.

  • PeterRRRRR September 22, 2010, 9:46 pm

    Wow, kind of surprised that Icelanders seem as clueless / naive / impatient as many here in the US. We’ve just (barely) emerged from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929, and many here seem to think everything should be back to “normal” 12 to 18 months later. Sounds like the same in Iceland, and your collapse appears to be even worse than ours. Hate to say it, but the type of recovery needed / desired will take a number of years, probably a decade.

  • Chris Cook September 25, 2010, 1:24 am

    Try a Rental Pool.

    Step One: set a reasonably affordable rental on the properties.

    Step Two: index link this rental.

    Step Three: allocate part of the rental to maintenance/depreciation.

    You now have a Pool of affordable index-linked rentals.

    Step Four: within a partnership framework agreement simply divide the Rental Pool into proportional Units.

    Step Five: sell the Units to investors, particularly pension funds.

    For the banks this ‘debt/equity swap’ gives a better outcome than any refinancing involving debt.

    For the occupiers, anything paid more than the rental buys Units, and even if they can’t afford cash, if they do the maintenance themselves to the right standards, they get Units.

    ‘Unitisation’ is not Rocket Science.