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PM’s Ideas for New Buildings Disputed

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PM’s Ideas for New Buildings Disputed

Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson

Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Prime Minister of Iceland and chair of the Progressive Party Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson recently presented a controversial parliamentary resolution on ambitious constructions to be completed in time for the 100th anniversary of Iceland’s sovereignty in 2018.

The PM has suggested making an extension to the parliamentary building designed by state architect Guðjón Samúelsson in 1918; a reconstruction of the hotel Valhöll, which used to stand in Þingvellir National Park but burnt down in 2009; and the completion of the building housing The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, dv.is reports.

The resolution was discussed in the cabinet last week but the MPs of the PM’s coalition partner, the Independence Party, have yet to take a formal position on it and it has yet to be made public, ruv.is reports.

Svandís Svavarsdóttir, MP for the opposition’s Left-Green Movement, stated it isn’t for the PM to decide whether the parliamentary building should be enlarged.

“In a representative democracy, it is the parliament itself which makes such decisions and on a cross-political basis,” Svandís reasoned. “But whether it is timely is another question altogether.”

The idea for Valhöll’s reconstruction had not been discussed with Þingvallanefnd, the committee appointed to make suggestions on the national park’s development following the hotel’s destruction.

In his Easter greeting on Facebook on Sunday, Sigmundur encouraged people to take a look at pictures of Dresden where the 70th anniversary of the reconstruction of the city center was recently celebrated—it was destroyed by air strikes during World War II.

No less controversial is Sigmundur’s recent proposal that the new hospital building for Landspítali National University Hospital be construced at the current location of national broadcaster RÚV on Efstaleiti instead of next to the existing hospital buildings on Hringbraut.

The healthcare system’s representatives, including Landspítali director Páll Matthíasson, have criticized the proposal, reasoning that changing the location of the new building now will interrupt the planning procedure and delay the construction.

Páll said the idea hadn’t been discussed with him; he heard about it for the first time on the news.

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