Professional Impossibility (JB)

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Júlíana Björnsdóttir's picture

It took me a while to find a job. And even longer to find the right job. But when the right job came along, I pursued the job with passion and integrity, knowing with certainty that I had what it takes to perform the duties in the job description.  

And I got the job. Every day I go to my office, I do my very best to do the very best job I can do for my team and the company that placed its trust in me. I understand that like with any job, it takes time to learn the ropes and become perfectly efficient in performing my duties. I also understand that not all tasks are as enjoyable to perform but should I encounter a task that for some reason I am less inclined to perform, I will still do my best. I signed the dotted line and I honor my duties.

However, it seems this professional integrity is not necessary to be found in all sectors.

Politicians in government, for example, are exempt from keeping the promises they made to the people – their employer – at least in Iceland.

The legitimate reason behind dismissing one of its main election promises, that is, the referendum to decide whether or not to continue the EU accession talks is simple: Political impossibility.

A political impossibility is a funny phrase. It refers to our politicians’ impossibility to perform a task they in fact were recruited to perform. The Progressive Party and Independent Party’s stand against the EU talks is that Iceland does not belong in the European Union. Therefore they have submitted a proposal to Parliament to put an official end to the talks by withdrawing from them, as I mentioned in my last column.

Mikael Torfason, editor at 365 media and the host of a Sunday afternoon news-oriented discussion program on Channel 2 (Stöð 2), Mín Skoðun (“my opinion”) gave a definition of this term in his program yesterday afternoon. In his opinion, the political impossibility is simply that they cannot be expected to take on a task that is in opposition of the two parties’ internal policies. 

To him, the political reality is simply that more than half the Icelandic population wants to continue accession talks with the EU and then vote in a referendum whether to join the EU on those terms or not. 

I’ll be honest with you: Mikael Torfason is not my favorite journalist. 

But this time, he is right.

Why is it that the present government can allow itself to take a stand that is in total disregard of its employer – the people – in the name of “political impossibility”. I can just imagine if a normal employee used this argument as an excuse to refuse to perform a designated task, especially seeing that the head of the Independent Party himself said that he would support a referendum to decide whether to continue the EU talks or not.

Earlier this week, Channel 2 showed a clip from an interview taken during the elections last spring where Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson made it quite clear that a referendum should and would take place, possibly as early as the spring of 2014 alongside the nationwide municipal elections.

But now, according to the Minister of Finance and head of the Independent Party, it is wrong to continue the theatrical performance that is the EU accession negotiation process, both to his party and the European Union. 

Meanwhile, roughly 8,000 people came to Austurvöllur to protest last Saturday; this was day five of an almost week long protesting.

A recent statistical study shows that 82 percent of electorates want a referendum. I feel it is the general consensus, following Icesave referendum one and two, is that voters like to be asked about the big issues. The European Union is a big issue and therefore I feel that electorates need to be asked. And the result needs to be respected, no matter how the politicians in charge feel about it.

A politician is in servitude to the nation as a whole, both those who voted for them and those like myself, who didn’t. 

I am genuinely concerned that our politicians – the people’s “employees” – regard themselves as superiors to the people they serve, and will choose not to listen to a large enough number of dissatisfied electorates and withdraw from the accession talks. 

What happened to their professional integrity? 

Most of us would be sacked for not performing a duty fundamental to the job we signed up to do. Clearly a petition with more than 40,000 signatures and five days of bellowing protests is not enough.

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir@gmail.com

 

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