Are the PM's Days Numbered?


The local buzz around town suggests that Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson’s days are numbered. In other words, Mr. Ásgrímsson had better not throw away the Ikea receipt for that brand new, Corinthian leather chair.

There are many reasons for Mr. Ásgrímsson’s unpopularity. The top gripe, polls show, is the dubious way the prime minister manoeuvred this nation onto the list of the coalition of the willing.

The details are sketchy, but debate has raged over whether Mr. Ásgrímsson decided the nation’s fate in a meeting of two – himself and then-Prime Minister Davíd Oddsson – or whether there was indeed a committee vote. Some local pundits feel that constitutionally there should’ve been a parliamentary vote on the issue.

Both Mr. Ásgrímsson and Davíd Oddsson argue that there was a committee vote on the issue of war. However, some members of the foreign affairs committee can’t seem to recall any deliberations.

In light of this, Fréttabladid has reported that Mr. Ásgrímsson is now the least-trusted politician in Iceland. Number two on that list is Davíd Oddsson. Ironically, Davíd Oddsson is also the most trust-worthy politician, according to Fréttabladid.

But I say hogwash to it all. While Icelanders are overwhelmingly against the war in Iraq, the opposition to the war hasn’t affected voting habits. While it’s getting more vocal, when it comes down to it they just don’t care all that much, as long as the economy continues to shine, and with this newly found wealth they can purchase new homes with zero percent down, new cars, and alcohol.

It’s like the debate over the aluminium smelter in the East Fjords. Unhappiness over the decision to dynamite portions of Hafrahvammaglijúfur canyon and redirect the Jökla river didn’t translate into votes against the ruling coalition. In fact, the Left-Green Party lost a seat in the last election.

The reason Mr. Ásgrímsson is so unpopular, and his progressive party, otherwise known as the farmer’s party, has lost support, is due to the prime minister’s disposition.

With a face for radio, Mr. Ásgrímsson has the perfect personality to lead an agrarian party if the year were 1953. Where can one actually purchase suits the colour of mashed, pea-green soup? Times have changed, Mr. Ásgrímsson. With the local business leaders dressing as if they just came from High Street, the Prime Minister looks a tad out of touch.

With elections two years away, there is much talk about the former mayor of Reykjavik, Ingibjörg Sólon Gísladóttir, taking over the Alliance Party and then with a majority becoming Prime Minister.

Not a chance. In a twist, the Independence Party will have enough votes to align themselves yet again with the wounded Progressive Party and then King Davíd will once again be able to spin around in his genuine leather chair. EW

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.