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Poor Attendance in Parliament as Bill is Passed

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Poor Attendance in Parliament as Bill is Passed

Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament

Alþingishúsið, the Icelandic parliamentary building. Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

Numerous members of Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, failed to show up yesterday when an important bill was passed.

The Agricultural bill was approved with 19 votes against 7, with 37 MPs nowhere to be seen or abstaining. The agreement will be in effect for ten years and is inflation-adjusted, illustrating its importance.

Sixteen MPs abstained, seven had confirmed their absence, and 14 failed to show up.

Journalist Egill Helgason asks, “Is the explanation that MPs don’t feel like [voting], or do not care, or don’t they want to take a stand?”

MP Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, the Pirate Party, is among those who abstained. He told Vísir he did so because he wants to understand the consequences of his actions. He stated he did’t foresee a new agreement would have replaced the one that was presented yesterday.

“People are angry,” he declared. “This is a rotten agreement. I think everyone in the minority agrees. This is not approval; I have the feeling people act as if abstention means approval, which it doesn’t.” He admitted that it had surprised the minority how few MPs of the governing parties were in attendance. Members of the minority had assumed they would be outnumbered by the majority and that the bill would be passed.

MP Valgerður Bjarnadóttir, the Social Democratic Alliance, agreed that abstention did not equal approval. She pointed out that some amendments had been made to the bill at the request of the minority, such as a revaluation of it in three years.

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