Approximately 4,500 people of all ages attended a demonstration to protest the government’s actions on Austurvöllur square in from of Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, yesterday afternoon. The demonstration was peaceful but the police were on the alert.
“We aren’t here on anyone’s behalf; this idea just popped up three days ago. We came here to support each other and find solidarity in our sense of justice and anger. Because we have had enough,” stated musician Svavar Knútur Kristinsson, one of the protest’s organizers, who addressed the crowd, visir.is reports.
From the protest yesterday. Photo: Zoë Robert.
The government is currently suffering a low support ranking; fewer than 33 percent of respondents in the latest survey by Capacent Gallup stated that they supported the government. At the beginning of the year, 49 percent supported the government.
Support ranking for the previous government also went through a similar trend a year and a half after taking office, ruv.is pointed out.
Support for Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson’s Progressive Party has collapsed since the 2013 election. Currently, 11 percent of respondents would vote the party, down from more than 24 percent in the election.
The other coalition party, the Independence Party, remains the country’s largest with a support ranking of 25 percent, down from almost 27 percent in the 2013 election.
“I’m concerned about the basic pillars of society, particularly healthcare and education. I’m concerned about the government’s actions in these sectors,” stated one protestor, 24-year-old student Salvör Sæmundsdóttir.
“I don’t believe that the government has been honest and I believe we are being lied to. We’re not told anything, for example concerning Hanna Birna [Kristjánsdóttir],” added another protestor, 68-year-old pensioner Ásgeir Ingi Eyjólfsson, referring to the minister of the interior, whose ministry leaked confidential information about an asylum seeker.
“Also as to how Sigmundur Davíð [Gunnlaugsson, prime minister] handled the municipal election and the discussion about Muslims and concerning [the police] buying weapons. We’re just not told anything,” Ásgeir concluded.
Quite a few demonstrators were protesting the police and Icelandic Coast Guard acquiring submachine guns, an issue which has been heatedly debated lately.
Some of the protestors were there to support doctors, who are currently on strike, in their demand for better wages, as well as the demands of music teachers, who are also striking at the moment, ruv.is reports.
“I agree with some of these issues and others I disagree with,” PM Sigmundur Davíð said in an interview with ruv.is, stating that he supports the demands of music teachers for better wages. He added that a tradition has formed for protesting in Iceland and that it’s easier to organize a demonstration now than in the past because of social media.