Tomorrow at 10 am, Iceland’s parliament will vote on whether to accept a sovereign guarantee for the Icesave debt.
For anyone who does not know, Icesave were online savings accounts opened in the UK and Holland, that collected colossal sums in deposits from regular depositors. The Icelandic regulators, including many people who are still in highly influential positions in this country, failed to contain the growth of the Icesave accounts, and even went on tour to promote them. The bank collapsed, and now the debate is whether the Icelandic public – all 300,000 of us – should be responsible for covering the debts of a private banking institution – a debt that could amount to what it costs to run the entire Reykjavík police force for 130 years.
As everyone who has been following this blog will know, the matter of Icesave is the most serious political issue in recent memory in this country – perhaps even the most serious in the history of the Republic. The debate has raged on and on and on, agreements have been reached and backed out of, it has brought the government to the verge of collapse more than once, and one cabinet ministers has resigned. The nation is profoundly divided on the issue, and every Icelander I know is ready to throw up at the mention of the name. It’s an issue that has a lot of gray areas, and it is very difficult to know what is right and wrong in this matter.
There are two options, both of them bad. One, we accept the debt and the ensuing burden, or we reject it and become isolated from the global community, including having our loans cut off by the IMF and related parties.
Parliament convened for these three days between Christmas and New Year’s expressly for the purpose of finishing the matter. As I write this, at 11 pm, it’s still in the third round of debates. Tomorrow at 10 am, they’ll start voting.
Watch this space.