The President’s veto of the Icesave bill continues to rank high in the discussion here in Iceland. One of the main themes concerns the question of how democratic it is for the President to be able to oppose parliament the way he did on Monday – for a single individual to be able to hold the fate of the nation in his hand.
Fréttablaðið makes some interesting points to this effect in its editorial today.
Over the last few years, the president’s power to veto parliamentary bills has not been called into question. However, there is reason to iterate that the Constitution of the Republic of Iceland expects this power to be exercised in emergencies. It is not intended to make the Office of the President of Iceland into a pivotal force in politics. This was tested in the first years of Iceland’s independence, and is a point of general agreement.
One could argue that the veto by the President at this time violates those boundaries. Thus a basic, fundamental change has occurred in the political system of the Republic of Iceland. The Office of the President has become a focal point in the nation’s political clashes.
Meanwhile, here is the President’s interview on the Beeb last night [thanks Bromley!]. The intro gives a pretty good overview of the Icesave story – although it does re-hash that annoying [and sensationalistic] misconception that McDonald’s “left” Iceland as a result of the meltdown.
Also, longtime reader Dave Hambridge sent a link to a post by the BBC’s business editor, who I daresay is rather supportive of our wayward nation:
However most of us should surely empathise with the majority of Icelanders who don’t see why they should be punished for the greed and stupidity of a handful of banks and bankers.
[NB – for those readers who may be confused: in Iceland, the President is effectively a figurehead and traditionally holds no political power – except in emergencies. He basically serves the same purpose as a monarch.]