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‘Kitchen Day Discussion’ in Alþingi

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‘Kitchen Day Discussion’ in Alþingi

Alþingi, Iceland's parliament

From Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament. Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

There was a so-called ‘kitchen-day discussion’ in Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, yesterday, RÚV reports, where the party groups discussed the policy and work of the government, now that only a month remains until parliamentary elections, scheduled for October 29.

The governing parties (the Independence Party and the Progressive Party) emphasized the progress made and the importance of continuing along the same path. The opposition pointed out that the economic recovery had not been evenly distributed, and reminded those present of revelations of the Panama Papers in April.

It was noticed that while it is customary for the leader of every party to speak at this discussion, neither PM Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, vice chairman of the Progressive Party, nor former PM Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, the party’s chairman, spoke. A power struggle between the two has dominated the news in recent days and weeks, culminating in Sigurður Ingi’s Friday announcement of his candidacy for the party leadership.

Oddný Harðardóttir, leader of the Social Democratic Alliance, stated that elections are being held early because of a lack of trust and confidence between the nation and authorities, where corruption and tax havens have played center role.

Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson, leader of the Independence Party, declared stability as one of the main issues of the upcoming elections and one of the main interests of households. He described affairs as moving in the right direction, but stressed the importance of not going too fast and realizing the importance of stability.

Left-Green Movement leader, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, pointed out that the economic recovery had not been evenly distributed. The elderly and disabled could not make ends meet, and opportunities for real improvements had been lost. She stated the government had intended to set all sorts of world records, but the only world record set, at least a European one, was the number of ministers in the Panama Papers.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Lilja Alfreðsdóttir said the Progressive Party’s policy was to ensure that every part of the country continued to be populated. She stressed the importance of increasing the country’s resources, so there will be more to share, the importance of keeping the state treasury solid and not taking on the debts of others. She spoke of politicians’ having to earn one another’s trust and focus on policy instead of personalities. (She had previously declared her support for Sigmundur Davíð as party leader and stated she was contemplating running for the position of vice chair of the Progressive Party.)

Óttarr Proppé, head of Bright Future, harshly criticized the government for systematically limiting people’s access to society and said that had to be stopped. He described the government as an elephant in a porcelain store.

Pirate Party MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir declared that a new constitution, the people’s constitution, would be first on the list if the Pirate Party were given a mandate. She expressed the party’s desire to have a strong Speaker of Alþingi, who dared object to ministers and who would send poorly prepared cases back to the ministries. Members of parliament must, she stressed, not forget that words in a text of law had real impact on people and their rights.

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