It’s been a rather gray and gloomy day, this day of the first national referendum since the founding of the Republic of Iceland.
I got up [relatively] early and headed for the gym. It was packed and I was slightly surprised that I did not hear the word “Icesave” mentioned once. Not in the fitness area, not in the area where people go to stretch, not in the change room. People were talking away, but about all manner of other things.
I had two interviews booked today with the CBC in Canada via Skype. The first one was completely muddled up because the audio was all out of whack and they pushed my time back considerably. I only had about two or three minutes to explain what Icesave is and what the referendum was about, and you can imagine how that went. So frustrating when there’s so much information to get across yet the time allows only a very superficial and even inaccurate representation of the way things really are.
I then headed out to the demonstration that had been organized downtown. There was first a march down Laugavegur, then a gathering in front of the parliament buildings, in Austurvöllur square. The weather was pretty unpleasant, which may or may not account for the relatively small turnout. RÚV claims there were over 1,000 people there, which I was a bit surprised to hear because to me it didn’t seem like that many. Given the emotional charge surrounding the Icesave issue and the trouble that so many people are in these days, I would have expected there to be more.
After the demo, EPI and AAH and I went to vote. Apparently voting started off slowly but picked up in the early afternoon. By 6 pm, around 42% of the electorate had cast their ballots and they’re expecting exit polls just past 10 pm this evening, which is when polling stations close. Apparently a 40% turnout in a referendum is considered pretty good, to say nothing of when the referendum is as confusing as this one is.
As I explained yesterday, Jóhanna publicly declared that she would shun the vote. Steingrímur J. has refused to say whether or not he’s voted, but President Ólafur Ragnar was hounded by the press this morning when he went to vote. He refused to say, however, how he cast his ballot [although I think we can probably guess].
I had another interview with the CBC just after 6 pm this evening, which went a lot better than the first, primarily because there was more time allotted to explain just what this is about. Obviously, though, it only managed to scratch the surface of this overwhelmingly complex issue.
[PS – there is something wrong with the comments system — some of you say that your comments have been eaten, and I’m not getting notifications of new comments. Will try to get the problem resolved asap!]