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Thousands Protest at Austurvöllur

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Thousands Protest at Austurvöllur

Protest on May 26, 2015.

At yesterday's demonstration. The signs read: 'Constitution against corruption' and ‘Simmi is psycho.’ Photo: Emilía S. Ólafsdóttir Kaaber.

Thousands gathered at Austurvöllur square yesterday to express their grievances with the current coalition government lead by Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson of the Progressive Party, and Bjarni Benediktsson, minister of finance and Independence Party chair.

The crowd ordered the administration to “return the keys,” and displayed signs with messages such as ‘Democracy!,’ ‘End the quota system!,’ and ‘Simmi is psycho.’

According to the demonstration’s organizers, the protest was devised as a platform to discuss widespread societal discontent. On the event’s Facebook page, protestors listed 99 reasons (yesterday’s story stated that they were 100) to attend the rally, including corruption, income inequality and disregard for campaign promises.

“This unrest appears to be in every corner and crevice of society. There are aggressive labor disputes, regular infractions of the framework program [legislation concerning environmental protection in areas of potential energy production], the government is causing irreversible harm on a daily basis and the situation is simply put extremely volatile,” said Sara Elísa Þórðardóttir, organizer and moderator of the protests to Vísir yesterday.

One man was arrested for attempting to break through the police shield wall and into parliament. After resisting arrest for several minutes, the man surrendered to police. He was later identified as Björgvin Þór Hólm, managing director of IT company Tölvuvirkni. Björgvin described his actions as civil disobedience and added that he did not fault police for doing their job, Vísir reports.

Elín Hirst, MP for the Independence Party, complained on her Facebook page about the egging of parliament, stating that “protests are a part of democracy and I support voters in objecting to what they dislike about the government, but they must do so with calm and reason.”

An online petition has been started asking the President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to retract the mandate of the government and temporarily appoint a national unity government comprised of politically unaffiliated individuals. So far, close to 2,500 signatories have added their names to the petition.

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