The Minister of Commerce and Banking announced his resignation this morning. He moreover announced that he had dismissed the director and board of the Financial Supervisory Authority.
Seriously, I feel like doing a frenzied African war dance in my living room. In fact …
OK, now that that’s out of the way it’s time to get cynical [because, you know, despite my empathy with people with cancer and suchlike I can get cynical with the best of you … er … them]…
The minister would have us believe that this is a “decision of conscience”, thereby exposing his own simple-mindedness as I don’t think any thinking person will believe that. If this was so, why didn’t he resign weeks ago? On the contrary it is evident that this is merely a well-constructed ploy [and not even that well constructed, really] to enhance his image now that elections have been called. With any luck [on his part] he will only have to be out of a job for about four or five months and will then be re-elected; had he not resigned, however, the chances of that would have been slim. He is a minister for the Social Democratic Alliance, which has plummeted in popularity over the last week or so, and I suspect he feels this is his – and their – only chance at re-election.
Still, he’s the first one to publicly shoulder responsibility for the economic implosion, despite not even having been in government when the whole system was engineered, so we can give him -1 point on the Bananarepublic-o-meter for that. And -2 points for kicking the fricking amateurs at the FSA out on their butts before he left. No, make that -3 points. Huzzah!!
Meanwhile, the Central Bank board operates under the auspices of the Prime Minister who has done nothing but declare his unfailing devotion to Davíd Oddsson and his cronies at the bank. We shall see if the Independence Party pulls a similar stunt as the SDA to raise its popularity, although with the unnatural power that Doddsson appears to wield over the PM and his people I don’t expect a great deal from that camp.
MEANWHILE, I PROMISED A REPORT
On yesterday’s demonstration, which was incredible. To be perfectly honest, I half-expected that with the government’s concession to the public, i.e. calling elections this spring, protester numbers would drop off and people would slink back into complacency. Not so. Yesterday’s demonstration was the most well-attended to date, with over 5,000 people participating. The energy was incredible – vastly different from the strong undercurrent of of anger, hopelessness and despair that has prevailed of late. It’s like our latest victory [the PM’s intention to call elections] has unleashed tremendous energy and elation and yesterday’s demonstration was almost like a celebration. It was fantastic to be there, at the very center of change and at such a momentous time in the history of our nation.
Here is part of an excellent speech by writer Guðmundur Andri Thorsson [unfortunately slightly truncated] which will give you small idea of the atmosphere and also protester numbers:
When the demonstration ended, the organizers announced from the podium that a choir would sing in front of the parliament building. This has never happened before. Happily we were standing nearby and so we got to hear them perform two of our most beautiful national songs: Land míns föður, landið mitt [The land of my father, my land] and Hver á sér fegra föðurland [Who has a more beautiful fatherland?]. It was very moving, and really lifted the mood. I managed to record a little bit of the former song, here:
As soon as they had finished, people started once more banging drums, pots, pans and whatever they had, and chanting Vanhæf ríkisstjórn! [Incompetent government!]. It’s like a tribal chant that has been ongoing for the past week, and it’s fantastic.
This is history in the making, people. Momentous and incredible.
IT’S A CALM AND MILD SUNDAY
I suppose this is what is called “light air” according to the Beaufort wind scale [if you’ve been using the forums, you may have noticed the different ranks given to people according to number of posts – you start off calm and work your way up to a hurricane…] – and it sure looks nice out there. Gentle sunshine this morning but it is currently overcast in the capital, with temps at 2°C [36F]. Sunrise was at 10:28 am and sunset due for 4:53 pm. This afternoon at 3 pm there is yet another demonstration, this time on Lækjartorg square, to protest vandalism and violence against the police.