Monumental day today: for the first time in Iceland’s history, parliament voted to indict a former prime minister for negligence and misconduct in the line of duty.
I am, of course, referring to Geir H. Haarde and his involvement in the Icelandic economic meltdown. Three others were up for indictment with him [I wrote about this here] but they were let off the hook [by a narrow margin].
Icelandic society is buzzing right now and opinions are REALLY divided on this issue, which has so many facets. Some people feel that either everyone should have been indicted, or no one. Making Geir into a scapegoat doesn’t really cut it, since he certainly didn’t act alone. Meanwhile, if all had been indicted, then there would have been outrage that members of the current government — including PM Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson — were not included, since they were influential members of the government at the time of the collapse. And of course there are many other variables. The responsibility for the collapse goes back several years and started in effect with the privatization of the two largest commercial banks. In which case old Davíð Oddsson, as well as his sidekick-at-the-time Halldór Ásgrímsson should also be indicted. However, unfortunately the statute of limitations period is only around three years, so it’s too late to indict them.
And of course there are all the bankers — but if they are to be tried, that will be before a normal court of law. This instance requires a completely new court — called landsdómur in Icelandic, literally “national court” — to be set up especially for parliamentarians and, like I said, it’s never been done before in the history of the republic.
In any case, I don’t think this outcome gives anyone a great sense of satisfaction. There is a lot of outrage, and not only among IP supporters. Many people feel the Icelandic Alþingi [parliament] sank to new lows today. Personally I think this is a sad day in the history of the republic. I’m no great fan of Geir nor of his previous work, but somehow this seems to completely miss the mark.