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Iceland’s Independence Party Self-Critical in Report

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Iceland’s Independence Party Self-Critical in Report

The reconstruction committee of the Independence Party published a draft of a self-critical report on the events leading up to the collapse of the banking system on its website on Sunday, asking what the party could have done differently.

“One of the Independence Party’s strengths should be, for years to come, that its members can criticize decisions and policies, even with big words if necessary,” Vilhjálmur Egilsson, managing director of the Confederation of Employers (SA) and chairman of the committee, told Morgunbladid.

Chairman of the Independence Party Geir H. Haarde. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

“The country’s banking system collapsed and there were reasons for that that we have to examine in detail,” Egilsson added.

The draft of the report criticizes the Independence Party harshly for having performed poorly in terms of economic management, privatizing of the banks and other matters during its time in office since 1991.

The draft also concludes that the party neglected to listen to its own grassroots, who had expressed concerns including the expansion of government operations to keep up with Iceland’s expanding economy.

Other statements made in the draft include that banks, which used to be state-owned (and were nationalized again after their bankruptcy), had not been sold to the highest bidder when they were privatized and that the Central Bank had failed in its role.

Egilsson said amendments will be made to the report until its finalized version is published on March 20. “The advantage of having a transparent exchange of opinions is that discussions become more mature and not as strained as they sometimes are.”

Chairman of the Independence Party, former Prime Minister and Geir H. Haarde, appears not to share the reconstruction committee’s views. He encouraged its members to look ahead and not to the past, Fréttabladid reports.

Haarde said in an interview with RÚV on Monday that the Independence Party allows freedom of speech and that each member is free to express his or her opinions, but would not make any comments on the content of the committee’s draft.

In the same news program, MP for the Independence Party Ásta Möller apologized for her complacency in the lead-up to the crisis and for having failed as the nation’s elected representative.

Möller said that she, along with other members of the Independence Party, should have reacted when the banking system grew out of proportion and finally collapsed.

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