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Discontent within Independence Party

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Discontent within Independence Party

Bjarni Benediktsson

Journalists talk to Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson yesterday. Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

Eyjan reports that Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson’s statement to foreign media, stressing that he is only stepping aside as prime minister for an unspecified amount of time has been far from well received by members of the Independence Party. They call the matter “embarrassing” and demand that the Progressive Party, of which Sigmundur is chairman, explain the issue during negotiations for continued cooperation in government.

Sigmundur appeared to have resigned yesterday, following leaks from a Panama law firm, connecting him to a company on Tortola.

MPs for the Independence Party told Eyjan they were taken aback by Sigmundur’s statement and one MP asserted that no MP from the Independence Party took the statement seriously. The matter is certain to make negotiations between the two governing parties tougher in coming days, according to Eyjan. Several MPs for the Independence Party voiced their doubts about agreeing to the selection of Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson as prime minister.

Head of the Independence Party Parliament Group Ragnheiður Ríkharðsdóttir was quoted in mbl.is as stating, “Personally, I don’t think it’s a given that Sigurður Ingi [Jóhannsson] become prime minister, although Sigmundur Davíð [Gunnlaugsson] steps aside.” She continued, “I think that’s something the parties simply must discuss.” She is against the dissolution of parliament and emphasizes the importance of completing certain projects in government, such as the lifting of capital controls.

Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson and Sigurður Ingi will be discussing further cooperation between the parties today. Bjarni, whose name was connected to a company in Seychelles Islands as a result of the recent leak of documents from a Panama law firm, has not sought interest in the position of prime minister. He was under fire last night in the Kastljós news program on the Icelandic national broadcaster RÚV , where he was asked to explain his connection to the offshore company.

Both Bjarni and Sigurður Ingi mentioned on the program the possibility of holding early elections, or before May of next year, when they are next scheduled.

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