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Meanwhile back in Iceland we have political scandal

From my vantage point here in Bulgaria, I’ve been loosely following the news back home.

Seems Minister of Economic Affairs Gylfi Magnússon is in deep doo-doo.

Apparently he knew about the illegality of the FX loans more than a year ago, but chose not only to keep mum, but to lie about it to members of the parliament.

It is safe to say that Gylfi has fallen from grace rather precipitously. Not too long ago, he and Ragna Árnadóttir — the two cabinet ministers without a political affiliation — were among the best-trusted members of the government. Not so any more for old Gylfi.

All of which spells further declining support for the government of Steingrímur J. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. And with the IP waiting in the wings with more support than ever since pre-collapse … well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where this is headed.

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  • Marko August 13, 2010, 12:55 pm

    I think it’s time someone write a letter to Queen of Denmark.

    “We changed our mind. Can you please fix this? We promise not to declare another independence in the next 100 years.”

    -Marko.

  • Albert August 13, 2010, 1:04 pm

    I find impossible to fathom that the primary architects of this ongoing mess (the IP) poll so well. Why can’t people remember that they drove the bus off the cliff? Could it be the constant stream of mis-direction from Morgunblather?

    Not that the current government has done themselves any favors of late, but the last thing Iceland needs at the moment is BjarniBen and friends trying to return to the way they like things (likely including de-emphasizing investigation and prosecution of the big mis-doers).

  • Skúli Pálsson August 13, 2010, 1:51 pm

    This is a big fuss without substance cooked up by the people who only want to avoid more important issues of this society. The illegality of the FX loans was at the time a question for the courts. It was not for the minister to answer it.

  • hildigunnur August 13, 2010, 2:40 pm

    🙁

  • Kris August 13, 2010, 4:57 pm

    What about a GreenyWeeny party to fix all these things. Didn’t they have their great banquet? The king ignored the petition, so what then: sulk?
    Johanna and her cronies are just a bunch of empty suits. What a surprise! I think I’ll become a communist, but first let me check to see if it is fashionable.

  • Joerg August 13, 2010, 6:55 pm

    How could the Minister actually have “known” about the illegality, if this was up to the courts to decide at this time?

    I understand from the news that the ministry’s former undersecretary has received a document, which the Minister himself had accused the Central Bank of having kept from him. But not passing important documents reminds me of some of the last posts on doing business in Iceland. It’s just the way things are there – or, at least, it would be a credible excuse.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland August 13, 2010, 10:00 pm

    Will Alda return from Bulgaria ha ha we will have to wait and see ?

    🙂

  • The Fred from the forums August 14, 2010, 12:04 am

    OK, I’m confused.

    According to Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, quoted in Iceland Review, Gylfi Magnússon didn’t answer questions from MPs about the foreign currency loans. That would be a different thing from lying, and if its an unacceptable thing to do in Icelandic political culture, why are the complaints happening now and not at the time of his testimony?

    Who are The Movement? Is that what started out as the Citizen’s Movement? What are they about?

  • Ethan August 14, 2010, 4:47 am

    As Marko proposed, has anyone seriously talked about undoing what happened in 1944 and go “back” to Denmark?

  • James August 14, 2010, 7:37 am

    Anyone have a quote of his lie(s) to members to parliament?

  • Bromley86 August 14, 2010, 11:10 am

    >Who are The Movement? Is that what started out as the Citizen’s Movement? What are they about?

    Yep. Bascially, I believe, they decided that they didn’t actually want to pay any attention to their support base, so they split with 3 of the CM changing to the Movement. That’s what happens when you elect anarchists 🙂 .

  • Bromley86 August 14, 2010, 11:16 am

    >As Marko proposed, has anyone seriously talked about undoing what happened in 1944 and go “back” to Denmark?

    IANAIcelander, but I suspect that the independence meme is so strong that this possibility could not be seriously considered. If it was, presumably the same power base that is so anti-EU would kick in. Given the deliberate misinformation/scaremongering that’s happened on that front (lebensraum!), it’d get shot down quickly.

  • alda August 14, 2010, 11:21 am

    Bromley is right. A merger with Denmark is unthinkable. I mean, even the EU would be rejected if it came to a referendum now.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland August 14, 2010, 1:08 pm

    What about the reverse ? , an invasion force of 20,000 crack Danish Paratroopers descending en masse from the Sky seizing key strategic points, the Airports,Harbour,Althingi and Alda’s apartment, to await the arrival of the main Norwegian/Danish/British/Dutch fleet, the British and Dutch for their Icesave,The Norwegians for their mackerel and the Danes for their revenge for the declaration of Independence in 1944 when they were occupied by the Nazi’s ho ho ho.

  • John August 14, 2010, 2:04 pm

    If Iceland elect IP to rule yet again, what will happen to Iceland credibility abroad? ( How would Norway Sweden and Denmark view a government from the same party that’s responsible for the Kreppa)
    Does it not just tell the Nordic countries that Iceland wants to continue the course Iceland has set for itself prior to the Kreppa ?

  • Rik Hardy August 14, 2010, 3:18 pm

    Incorrect to call The Movement anarchist. Their policies are simply radical, and “radical” means, “connected to the roots”. And what else could possibly save Iceland, except something radical?
    The Movement is the only group which actually represents the anger which almost all thinking Icelanders felt nearly two years ago. And Icelanders are well-educated – they CAN think.
    All the other parties have just been playing childrens’ games with politics.

    Like Albert, I find it IMPOSSIBLE to believe the polls which would have us believe that there is a secret longing in the people of this country to have their worst enemies back in power. But then, the chief TV news editor belongs to the same party as the major newspaper editor – another of the vastly overpaid architects of the “big mess”, while one of the major beneficiaries of the politics of the last 20 years owns the only competitive TV channel.

    Still, unless The Movement increases its numbers A LOT, I think we can say goodbye to Iceland, except for a few rich tourists. I expect some future President of the USA will just tie a rope around the country and drag it off to Alaska as another “liberated state”…

  • Bromley86 August 14, 2010, 5:34 pm

    >Incorrect to call The Movement anarchist.

    True, my mistake. I don’t know about the other two, but it’s very correct to call Birgitta an anarchist.

    As to what they represent, as I remember it the reason why they needed to change their name was because they didn’t want to be fettered by their party re the pre-EU talks referendum. Perhaps that meant that they remained true to the people that voted them in, but that seems unlikely. Certainly, a random sampling of the two English language Icelandic bloggers that I read shows that they’ve managed to alienate people who voted for them:
    1. Alda
    http://icelandweatherreport.com/2009/07/the-civic-movement-falls-from-grace.html
    (I get a mention! 🙂 )
    2. Dadi
    http://www.economicdisasterarea.com/index.php/features/idiots-in-the-citizens-movement/

  • Rajan Parrikar August 14, 2010, 6:15 pm

    Rejecting membership of EU would be the highest display of Icelandic wisdom in the current circumstances.

  • Luna_Sea August 14, 2010, 6:45 pm

    >…I expect some future President of the USA will just tie a rope around the country and drag it off to Alaska as another “liberated state”…

    Then I will finally be able to live and work in Iceland legally : )

  • Bromley86 August 14, 2010, 9:20 pm

    >Rejecting membership of EU would be the highest display of Icelandic wisdom in the current circumstances.

    No, it would be profoundly stupid. Iceland and the EU might be a terrible match, and yet if the EU was offering a sufficiently good deal then it might still be wise for Iceland to join.

    Unfortunately, the Movement elected to try to block even the talks (directly contradicting what they promised when they were campaigning), rather than finding out what was on offer.

    A real shame, as there now appears to be no one that a sensible person in Iceland could vote for without reservation. The hope of the nation rests on a comedian 🙂 .

  • Rajan P. Parrikar August 15, 2010, 1:41 am

    Bromley86: “No, it would be profoundly stupid. Iceland and the EU might be a terrible match, and yet if the EU was offering a sufficiently good deal…”

    Membership in EU comes with baggage that goes beyond economics. Immigration, for one thing. I do not wish Iceland to turn into another gateway for third-world jihadis. Iceland will eventually recover from its economic woes. But Eurabia and Londonistan are here to stay. Let not Iceland catch that infection.

  • Rik Hardy August 15, 2010, 3:19 am

    Well, Bromley86, there is much truth in what you say.
    I had higher hopes, and it is indeed “a real shame, as there now appears to be no one that a sensible person in Iceland could vote for without reservation. The hope of the nation rests on a comedian.”

    Like Alda and Dadi, I am disillusioned with the Movement, but I still think that anarchy is not at all what they wanted – I think they really wanted to remove the sort of mindset which led to this awful mess.
    Which is what I hoped for too, but that mindset can still be seen and heard everywhere.

    It all boils down to greed for power and egomania, although I suppose anyone who would want to be a politician today must have those psychotic tendencies…

  • Bromley86 August 15, 2010, 11:51 am

    >Immigration, for one thing.

    Not sure that this is the case. Because of its isolation, Iceland doesn’t really have to worry about people sneaking over its borders. AFAIK (and I’m happy to be proved wrong), there is no central EU directive on accepting refugees/asylum seekers, although I see from a quick search and unfortunate dip into the BNP website that there are some halfwit EU rules (as you might expect) that limits the ability to turf people after 12m. Easily avoided by having a pretty draconian entry requirement (again, combined with the isolation).

    But actually you prove my point. Rejecting the EU before you know what’s on the table is stupidity. If immigration was a key conern for Iceland, it’s always possible that they could negotiate opt-outs of whatever laws it is they don’t like. Ditto any other issues, with fishing being the most commonly cited one (although, from what I’ve read, I believe that that’s not actually necessary as the EU rules would cede Icelands waters to Icelandic fishermen because they’re the only ones who’ve fished there in the past 25 years).

  • Rajan P. Parrikar August 15, 2010, 6:24 pm

    Every EU country today has an immigration problem on their hands. Thousands are lining up at Greece’s door using it as a conduit to then slip into more pleasant places like Norway and Sweden. True, Iceland has the natural barrier of water that can discourage the casual try-my-luck visitor. But I doubt that that can be a full-proof deterrent in these times (just yesterday a ship bearing 450 Sri Lankan refugees washed ashore in Canada). Even today Iceland has to deal with a rash of bogus asylum seekers.

    I look at this issue of Iceland & EU from exactly the opposite end. Don’t join until you have had vigorous internal debate and thought through the consequences. Whereas you seem to be cocksure even while conceding you are “not sure.”

  • Luna_Sea August 15, 2010, 10:07 pm

    @Rajan P. Parrikar
    >Membership in EU comes with baggage that goes beyond economics. Immigration, for one thing. I do not wish Iceland to turn into another gateway for third-world jihadis….But Eurabia and Londonistan are here to stay. Let not Iceland catch that infection.

    I looked at your website – beautiful photographs. But if we were all to follow your ideology and anti immigration stance you would still be living Goa and not have been allowed to emigrate to Mountainville, CA.

  • Luna_Sea August 15, 2010, 10:17 pm

    should have read “Mountain View, California” instead of “Mountainville”…my apologeies.

  • Virgile August 15, 2010, 11:45 pm

    This Gylfi scandal is a storm in a glass of water.
    First, the note about the loan is a lawyer office evaluation. Yes this one if saying that the loans where illegal but Other lawyer evaluation told the loans were legal.

    Second EVERYONE knew those loan were illegal. Including the movement, apparently 2 months before Gylfi received the note, Márgret Tryggvadóttir’ s assistant mentioned a lawyer note saying the same thing as the one of gylfi. Why did she, as a MP came foward with the information ?

    Third. This is just a smoke screen from the IP and The other members of the opposition to keep the pressure on the Gouv. They are just trying to break the current coalition. This is the same tricks they are using with the EU talks or the Icesave.
    What i think is sad is that no Journalist in Iceland has had the gut yet to dig the political making off these FX loans….and remind the crowds who did create those loans.

    I am seriously loosing hope on Iceland’s political will to get out of the kreppa.

  • Bromley86 August 16, 2010, 12:49 am

    >Whereas you seem to be cocksure even while conceding you are “not sure.”

    Not at all. Perhaps you are not aware of it, but there was a strong campaign from the No-EU camp to require a referendum before talks were even started with the EU. Thankfully, honest (and I do mean that – a sizable chunk of the anti-EU camp in Iceland is profoundly dishonest) people prevailed and talks started.

    Once those talks are finished, then the Icelandic people can decide whether they like what’s on offer. That is the time for the vigorous internal debate.

    For the record, I don’t actually want Iceland in the EU (and not because I don’t like Icelanders). But I’m not so dishonest that I can’t separate my personal preferences from what’s best for the the Icelandic people (which, for the avoidance of doubt, is not joining the EU but rather the opportunity to join the EU if they decide that they actually want to).

  • Rajan Parrikar August 16, 2010, 8:42 pm

    Luna_Sea: “I looked at your website – beautiful photographs. But if we were all to follow your ideology and anti immigration stance you would still be living Goa and not have been allowed to emigrate to Mountainville, CA.”

    You mean you figured out my “ideology” from a few rejoinders here? Why, thank you for not calling me a “bigot” (most American Lefties would have awarded me that by now).

    The issue of immigration to Iceland is a serious one and a special one. It is a small society of 300,000. Even a modest number of immigrants coming in can upset this balance. Therefore, I am against free flowing immigration into Iceland (as an outsider, needless to add, I am well aware that my opinion does not count, and that Icelanders will ultimately decide what’s right for them).

    I am also against immigration of jihadis into the West (“moderates” only remain so until they attain critical mass). We are already reaping the ‘fruits’ of the muddle-headed multi-culturism policy in the UK, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark. Don’t want any of that rubbish seeping into Iceland, just so that a few liberals feel good about themselves.

    At any rate, I don’t know if this is the right forum to discuss these issues.