Yesterday afternoon, Minister of Social Affairs and Housing Eygló Harðardóttir abstained during a vote on the Icelandic governmment’s budget plan for 2017-2021, RÚV reports. Her decision has been harshly criticized by members of the Independence Party, one of the coalition parties in government. Eygló is a member of the Progressive Party. The budget plan was approved by 29 members of the coalition parties in parliament. Seventeen members of the opposition voted against it, and two MPs abstained. Those who abstained are both members of the Progressive Party, Eygló and MP Þorsteinn Sæmundsson.
The reason Eygló gave for abstaining was that the plan did not provide enough for retirees and families with young children.
“It has been clear for a long time, since the plan was passed in government, that I had reservations regarding those two issues,” Eygló explained to RÚV. “I reiterated those reservations in a newspaper article this summer, and it would be strange for people to be surprised that I stand by my words.”
She believes more can be done to improve the financial conditions of retirees and families with young children.
Ragnheiður Ríkharðsdóttir, chair of the Independence Party’s parliamentary group, wrote on her Facebook page, “Minister of Social Affairs and Housing Eygló Harðardóttir could not support the government’s budget policy and budget plan in Alþingi’s vote today. That same minister must, then, be on her way out of government, or what?”
“If all cabinet members behaved this way, we would have complete anarchy in this country,” commented Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, deputy chair of the Independence Party’s parliamentary group. He continued, “If a minister is not happy with a certain issue and it appalls her so that she doesn’t believe she can support the government in question, then she resigns.”