I met Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, the leftist parliamentarian from Langanes peninsula, for the first time a quarter of a century ago at Kastrup (CPH) Copenhagen International Airport. He was drinking a Carlsberg, I was sipping a Tuborg.
A few days earlier he had given a (great) speech at Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, arguing against the sale of beer in Iceland.
And voted against lifting the ban on beer.
Yes, in 1989 it was prohibited to sell or consume beer in the Republic.
Steingrímur (‘Stone Mask’ if you translate his name directly) did not trust the people of Iceland to handle this (new) drink, which had been banned for most of the last century.
Steingrímur said young people would be exposed to cheap alcohol.
Now his party, the Left Greens, wants to ban internet pornography in Iceland.
Young people could be exposed to naked bodies.
The party is only 14 years old and has been chaired by Steingrímur, its founder, from day one. In the last elections, it was the third largest political party.
In the upcoming elections in April the party will lose half, or even more than half of its parliamentarians, due in part to internal fighting, but mostly because, in establishing the coalition the Left-Greens had to swallow the Social Democratic Alliance’s policy to join the European Union. Against the will of the Left-Greens.
And the party and the honorable minister Steingrímur has done a reasonably good job in governing Iceland over the last four years.
Jóhanna was the PM, but Steingrímur was the captain. The first successful left-wing government since independence in 1944.
Steingrímur stood down as leader on Saturday. The next chair, likely to be Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Minister of Education, Science and Culture.
Smart woman, but politics is not about being smart.
It’s an ugly game.
Steingrímur will be missed.
Cheers Steingrímur, enjoy your Viking beer.
Páll Stefánsson - firstname.lastname@example.org