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He said, she said

It’s been hard to know whether to laugh or cry while watching Geir and Ingibjörg [the leaders of the two ex-coalition parties] carp and bicker today. They’re like an old married couple on the brink of divorce who have been working overtime to present a united front, but whose carefully-constructed façade has finally come tumbling down, exposing the real nasties beneath.

According to the Social Democrats the IP has been dragging its ass in just about every way, most notably when it comes to housecleaning at the Central Bank. The IP [they say] has broken every promise they have ever made [reportedly there have been several] to oust Doddsson and his cronies. The SDs have long wanted Doddsson gone and, to be fair, have made no secret of that – we just didn’t know about the extent of their frustration.

[At which I must – and not for the first time – take pause to marvel at the sway Doddsson holds over the Independence Party, the almost elegant way in which he holds the entire party hostage. Indeed, that impenetrable ego of his that thus far has prevented him from stepping down from his ebony tower has now quite clearly delivered the kiss of death to this coalition, which started out with so much promise. Well done, Doddsson. You may now take your place in the Narcissists’ Hall of Fame.]

The IP, on the other hand, accuses the Social Democrats of inner-party dissent, to the point where they have been impossible to work with. They also take offense at the fact that they [SDs] issued them [IP] with an unacceptable ultimatum: that the IP [which incidentally has been in power for 17 long years] move aside and let the SDs take over as leaders of the government, since they were/are quite clearly incapable of getting anything done.

Meanwhile, PM [notforlong] Haarde said on TV this evening that he had presented a stellar offer to the SDs: that he would step aside and let vice-chair Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir take the helm [… er, wait … doesn’t the PM have cancer? wouldn’t he have to step aside anyway?] and to allow Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs and leader of the SDs take over as Minister of Finance [wait … doesn’t she have cancer …? And isn’t she already the MFA? – I’m confused] … an offer that the SDs foolishly rejected.

Anyway, bottom line, it looks like a national government with the five parties involved is now out of the question [can’t have ex-Mr. and ex-Mrs. Coalition glaring at each other across the table, can we now?] and that one of the two other options – extraparliamentary government or minority government – will have to be employed. The Prez met with all the party leaders this evening, and at this moment a minority government seems most likely, made up of the Social Democratic Alliance, the Left-Greens and the Progressive Party.

Ah, me. The fun just never stops. Whatever will they entertain us with tomorrow?

PS – here is a link to a piece I wrote for The Guardian today about Da Great Collapse. As before, I see reason to point out that neither the title nor the sub-title are mine. Grumble.

[Oh, and apologies to anyone who was trying to access the site earlier but without success – my hosting service was having yet another outage. Seriously, the next time I can afford 48 hours of downtime I’m moving to a different ISP. I mean it now!]



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Andrew January 27, 2009, 1:55 am

    I saw the ‘breaking news’ yesterday that the government had resigned. So what sort of government will you have for the next few months? If you didn’t have one, would you even notice!? Perhaps the demonstrations can call for a particular person to be PM? I wish you luck at removing Doddsson!

  • Cassie January 27, 2009, 4:00 am

    This is the most clear explanation of what’s actually going on that I’ve heard (being somewhat hamstrung by only being able to read the news about Iceland in English). Everyone else just focuses on the fact that Geir is the first head of state to fall due to the international financial crisis, with no significant details, at least not enough for me. Not to mention they’re also missing your knack for words and turns of phrase.

    Though I must say, at this point I really think Doddson should be somewhere a little more … drastic than a Narcissists’ Hall of Fame. Ahem.

  • PN January 27, 2009, 4:10 am

    Is it safe for visitors/tourists right now?

  • maja January 27, 2009, 5:33 am

    Wow! I was so suprised to read all this news of government collapse, it happened so suddenly!

  • Ljósmynd DE January 27, 2009, 8:24 am

    The IP might be interested to have an excuse not to participate in an all party government. In this case they could put up some frightening scenarios and blame the interim government for worsening economic conditions until the elections. They seem to have just started by talking about an imminent political crisis.

    I hope, people keep in mind for the next months, who brought them into the situation, where they now are.

    But this certainly needs some effort. The IP obviously doesn’t know how to run the economy but they certainly know how to manipulate people. Otherwise they wouldn’t have stayed in power for so long.

    In particular I would be worried about the króna and its artificially supported rate, as the CB may again be running out of foreign exchange reserves. I hope, that at least Oddsson and his gang in the CB will be under control as soon as possible and exchanged for competent experts.

  • Barry January 27, 2009, 8:35 am

    PN’s comment above “Is it safe for visitors/tourists right now?” is being echoed on a number of other blogs and particularly travel websites. Whatever is being written or broadcast “out there” is obviously so far from reality that it is endangering the tourism industry, and hence the whole Icelandic economy. The Government needs to get its act together and repudiate these reports … oh, wait, I forgot, we don’t have a Government ….

  • Barry January 27, 2009, 8:40 am

    LDE – there’s a difference between an “atificially supported rate” (which I don’t believe we have) and a “controlled exchange rate” (which is what I think we have). We’ve simply gone back to the way perhasp 90% of the world’s countries operated 30 years ago … effectively no capital movements and outgoing foreign exchange availability limited to the available incoming sum from exports, tourism etc. If the Central Bank are doing their job properly (and I agree there is a big IF there!), then there should be no depletion of reserves, other than to repay sovereign debt (loans, Goernment bonds etc.)

  • Barry January 27, 2009, 8:47 am

    The U.K. “Times” is reporting today that at the height of the demonstrations 32.000 people were gathered together in Reykjavík, all banging pots and pans …. do they know something that we don’t? I thought the largest attendance was estimated at 6.000, last Saturday.

  • Ljósmynd DE January 27, 2009, 8:55 am

    Barry: I was referring to the following information, given by Landsbanki on January 16th, which reads “International reserves decreased in December “.


    Do I have a wrong understanding of this?

  • mini-ciné January 27, 2009, 9:14 am

    The only way to get 32 000 people gathered together in Reykjavík would be to offer free hotdogs, something the political parties do in the run up to elections.

  • Barry January 27, 2009, 9:17 am

    LDE – Despite the poor English in the last sentence of the Landsbanki report, it seems that the explanation is there. Foreign reserves are quoted in krónur. The króna appreciated by 12% in value in the month of December, so the króna value of reserves decreased by the same 12%. The gross reduction in reserves was 15,3% for the month, or a nett loss of 3,3%. There’s no explanation of where this went …

  • Ljósmynd DE January 27, 2009, 9:39 am

    The blind obedience of the IP members towards Oddsson gives the impression of the IP as an cult-like community worshipping some guru. Maybe it needs an organisation like Alcoholics Anonymous to support people who are willing to free themselves from his spell.

    Barry: Thanks for the explanatory note

  • alda January 27, 2009, 10:28 am

    Thanks for the input, everyone!

    PN – yes, perfectly safe. As long as you you’re not threatened by people doing tribal dances and banging empty MacIntosh tins in front of the parliament buildings. 😉

    Barry – 32,000? Pfft! I rest my case about the misinformed/sensationalistic foreign media.

    LDE – Doddsson Followers Anonymous? It has a ring …

  • Julian Meteor January 27, 2009, 10:34 am

    TYPICAL. I have ALWAYS said that the Icelandics are JUST like the French.

  • Jessica January 27, 2009, 11:44 am

    Great stuff! Proof that truth is often stranger than fiction! Not even John Grisham could concoct a government scandal this juicy…

    Look on the bright side — at least it’s a very interesting time to be a blogger/journalist in Iceland! We don’t want you to get bored, Alda ; ‘ )

  • James January 27, 2009, 12:05 pm

    So, the President has decided that his preference is for a new minority coalition of Social Democrats and Left Greens. I guess those two will agree to that pretty soon…

  • James January 27, 2009, 12:19 pm

    there’s a difference between an “atificially supported rate” (which I don’t believe we have) and a “controlled exchange rate” (which is what I think we have)
    There are many techniques for artificially supporting a currency and exchange controls are one of those techniques.