Supporters of putting the future of Iceland’s European Union accession talks to a referendum gathered this weekend outside parliament, following the handover of a large petition.
The protesters gathered outside the Alþingi parliament on Saturday, calling for the ruling Progressive and Independence Parties to answer, before parliament goes into summer recess, whether their parties intend to honor their election promises to put the EU issue to a referendum. Voters should be given a clear answer to this question before the local elections are held on 31st May, they claim.
The day before, a petition of around 54,000 signatures was handed over to Alþingi, calling for the parliamentary resolution to halt the accession negotiations altogether to be abandoned.
The country’s foreign minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, the man behind the parliamentary proposal, responded to the petitioners by saying it may be possible to resolve the issue with the involvement of the people, in some way. In every other interview on the issue, he has firmly stated that his proposal to cancel Iceland’s EU membership application without consulting the public will not be revoked, as RÚV reported.
The 54,000 names on the petition represent 22 percent of Iceland’s eligible voters.
Organizers behind the petition say the issue is not only about the European Union, but more about the right of the people to have a say on the future of their country.
Gunnar Bragi says he remains hopeful that the matter can be resolved before the next election and that the government should take into account the view of dissenters, as long as it eventually gets its own point across, he told RÚV.