Whell, what a cracking good meeting that was!
Since the economic implosion a few weeks ago, a group of ordinary citizens have been organizing citizens’ meetings where they invite members of the government and others to come and respond to questions from the general public. Like the demonstrations that have been organized on the last seven Saturdays they provide an opportunity for people to come together and express their views, although obviously in a slightly different manner from the demos.
The first two citizens meetings were held in the Iðnó theatre, which is a fairly small venue. They were packed. The next one was moved to NASA, which was slightly bigger – it, too, was packed. This one tonight was held in Háskólabíó – the University Cinema – which seats around 700 people. Every seat was taken, people jammed the isles AND the sizable lobby in front was also packed with people, watching on screens. This meeting was broadcast live on national TV – for the first time.
Prior to the event, the organizers announced that they would reserve a labelled seat for every member of the cabinet. If they didn’t show up, the seat – with that person’s name in big white letters – would remain glaringly empty. Only one member of the cabinet – Minister for the Environment Þórunn Sveinbjörnsdóttir – confirmed that she would be there. In the end, the PM, the Minister for Foreign Affairs [who is also the leader of the coalition party], the Minister of Education, Science and Culture [who is deputy leader of the Independence Party], the Ministers of Finance, Industry, Communications, Fisheries and Environment were all there, as were several other MPs.
And what a sizzling event it was. Particularly for the PM and rest of the cabinet, who were reminded every few minutes with shouting and applause that the people want elections – they want cleansing! The speeches were impassioned and blazing, each one inspired and brilliant. [To me, the first one by economics professor Þorvaldur Gylfason – who I would like to see at the helm of the Central Bank immediately – and the last by writer Einar Már Guðmundsson were absolutely outstanding.] I found myself wondering repeatedly how the PM and the MFA and rest of the cabinet managed to sit there and take it … there was some seriously harsh criticism levied at them. And each time it was, and each time mention was made of the necessity of throwing out the cronies in the Central Bank, there was a torrent of applause, with people rising from their seats for added emphasis. It was amazing.
EPI and I had every intention of going tonight – it had been on the agenda for the last two days – but about an hour before it was about to start and right in the middle of fixing dinner, our main electrical fuse blew. It wouldn’t reset and we spent about half an hour searching for the problem, which turned out to be moisture in the kettle, right where the plug went in [the kettle wasn’t even on]. Anyway, that set us back time-wise and by the time we got it fixed and got the TV back on we saw from the live broadcast on Kastljós that, even at 7.30 pm, the auditorium was practically full – so we resigned ourselves to staying at home and watching it from the comfort of our sofa. I frequently found myself wishing I was there – but even at home, watching on TV, the fire and enthusiasm of those in attendance was infectuous.
I have to say, I was immensely proud of my nation tonight. There is so much fire in people, so much brilliance, skill, knowledge, articulation, clarity, sense of fairness and justice, desire for something new and wholesome and better … it has to come to pass. It just has to.
NOTHING QUITE SO DRAMATIC ABOUT THE WEATHER
Sure, it’s been blowing a bit today, but on the whole it’s been fairly tame. Cloudy skies, gray and fairly nondescript. Occasional drizzle. Temps right now 3°C [37F]. The midwinter sun came up at 10:26 am and set at 4:02 pm.