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Did Chinese Vote Sigmundur Out?

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Did Chinese Vote Sigmundur Out?

Jökulsárlón

Photo: Gylfi Blöndal.

The latest reports regarding the course of events at the Icelandic Progressive Party convention last weekend have to do with buses of strangers. Yesterday morning, Vísir quoted an interview with former PM Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson on Bylgjan radio. Sigmundur spoke of events leading up to his defeat Sunday in the fight for reelection as party chairman, where PM Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson had the upper hand. As of yesterday afternoon, the two had not spoken since the convention.

In the interview, Sigmundur Davíð stated, “Things looked good on Saturday, and I was not particularly worried, although you can’t take anything for granted. Then, all of a sudden, when Sunday had arrived and it was 11 o’clock, then buses drove up to Háskólabíó [the site of the convention], and a large number of people appeared, whom I had never seen before, in all the time I have worked for the party.”

These words, according to Vísir, have been interpreted as implying that those strangers took part in the election and presumably cast their votes for Sigurður Ingi.

There have been accusations made by Sigmundur Davíð’s supporters that the election was rigged. Sigmundur Davíð himself has stopped short of supporting those accusations, but would only state, “There were many moves made during this convention, and leading up to it, not all pretty. I’m not going to assert that people exactly cheated in the election.”

Yesterday afternoon, Vísir published a possible explanation of why Sigmundur Davíð had not seen the people before, who were bused to the site of the convention. No one but Sigmundur has come forward, claiming to have seen previously unknown members of the party being bused to the convention. Theodór Ingi Ólafsson, travel guide and media expert, claimed on Twitter yesterday that the only buses arriving at the location around 11 am on Sunday were transporting Chinese tourists. Theodór’s source for that information is one of the drivers of those buses. The tourists were on their way to Hótel Saga, he claimed, located opposite to Háskólabíó cinema.

Theodór told Vísir, “Yes, according to this driver I spoke to. He asserted he was in the area, from SBA [SBA-Norðurleið bus company], along with another one. He said no other buses were there, and I have no reason not to believe him.”

On a Facebook page for bus enthusiasts, Rútu- og hópferðabifreiðaáhugamenn, who monitor the moves of buses, Kristján Arnarson posted, “There were three buses from SBA by [Hótel] Saga at that hour, transporting Chinese Canadians. As to whether they voted, I have no idea.”

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