[Marxism] Soc.dems and Left Greens set to win majority in Iceland elections

Joonas Laine jjonas at nic.fi
Sun Apr 26 04:59:13 MDT 2009


Centre-left wins Iceland election
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8017927.stm

Iceland's interim centre-left government has won a resounding victory in 
early parliamentary elections, preliminary results show.

With more than 80% of the vote counted, the coalition secured 34 seats 
in the 63-member parliament - its first ever parliamentary majority.

Iceland has been one of the countries most dramatically affected by the 
global economic crisis.

The centre-right cabinet resigned in January amid mass street protests.

The Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement formed a 
coalition caretaker government in February, under Prime Minister Johanna 
Sigurdardottir.

Ms Sigurdardottir said if the results of Saturday's poll were correct it 
would be "historic".

"This is the first time that leftist parties will hold a majority. I 
hope this will be the result," she said.

Ms Sigurdardottir told supporters the nation was "settling the score 
with the neoliberalism" and with the conservative Independence Party who 
"have been in power for much too long".

"The people are calling for a change of ethics. That is why they have 
voted for us," she said.

The Independence party, who was expected to secure 16 seats, conceded 
defeat.

[..]

There is also the question of whether or not to apply to join the 
European Union.

In the past, Icelanders felt that they were better off outside the EU.

But the financial crisis has changed opinions, our correspondent says. 
Now, many see EU membership or adopting the Euro as Iceland's currency, 
as part of the solution to the country's problems.

Pro-EU Ms Sigurdardottir said if the country applied immediately for 
membership it could begin using the Euro "within four years".

However, the Left Green Movement - Ms Sigurdardottir's coalition partner 
- remains eurosceptic.

---

EU accession debate dominates Iceland election
LEIGH PHILLIPS
24.04.2009 @ 17:15 CET
http://euobserver.com/9/28007

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The snap general election in Iceland on Saturday 
(25 April) is set to return the governing minority red-red coalition to 
power but with a clean majority as voters ditch en masse the free-market 
and liberalising ideology of the centre-right Independence Party, the 
governors of the tiny north Atlantic nation for almost two decades and 
the architects of its economic collapse.

While the issues in the election have been varied, the question of 
whether to join the European Union has utterly dominated. But it is far 
from a sure thing that Iceland will apply to join the bloc, as while the 
leading Social Democrat Alliance are unabashed EU supporters, their 
coalition partners, the far-left Left Green Movement are steadfast 
opponents of entry.

The two parties are neck and neck in the polls. According to a Gallup 
poll released on the eve of the vote by national daily Morgunbladid and 
the public broadcaster, RUV, the Social Democrats, on 29 percent, pip 
their rivals to their left, who are backed by 27.4 percent.

If their support holds up, the two parties will win 19 and 18 seats in 
the Althingi, the country's parliament, respectively.

The Independence Party is on 23.6 percent and the centrist Progressive 
Party has 12 percent.

Adding to the left surge, the Citizens' Movement, which grew out of the 
Busahaldabyltingin, or Kitchenware Revolution, in January that resulted 
in the resignation of the government, is projected to win 6.5 percent of 
the vote. This would give the infant party four seats.

The protests took on the name Busahaldabyltingin for the pots and pans 
used as noise making instruments and the local delicacy, Skyr - a kind 
of curd, which was thrown at police.

The senior partners in the current caretaker government, the Social 
Democrats, strongly favour EU access.

On Monday (21 April), the Social Democratic prime minister, Johanna 
Sigurdardottir, said that the country must apply for membership in the 
bloc immediately after the elections and that if her party won, they 
would make such a move their top priority.

"It is important to apply for (EU) membership right away, so that people 
can see what we can get," she told the Morgunbladid paper.

"I predict that in four years we will have adopted the euro," she added.

Her partners in the Left Green Movement meanwhile argue: "Iceland's 
economic life is better situation outside of the EU than within it. They 
believe that the bloc is too pro-free-market and its structures are not 
sufficiently democratic.

However, the party has left the door open to membership in saying that 
it would support a referendum on whether to start negotiations on entry 
with the EU and a second referendum on whether to join.

The people themselves strongly back the idea of opening talks with 
Brussels, but they equally strongly oppose joining.

A March poll showed that 64.2 percent favour beginning negotiations, but 
just 39.7 in favour of entering the EU.

A range of commentators and analysts meanwhile have argued that 
remaining outside the union would result in a second, deeper crash, or 
kreppa in Icelandic.

At the very least, they have said, if the country does not abandon the 
krona for the euro, international companies will soon abandon the 
Icelandic marketplace.

The Left Greens, for their part, favour a sort of currency union with 
Norway instead.

Nevertheless, despite their disagreement over the EU and the euro, the 
two parties are almost certain to remain partners, as both have 
categorically ruled out any coalition with the Independence party.

Eyglo, a middle-aged barmaid in an Irish pub in Keflavik, was typical in 
her anger at the former ruling party and not afraid that the government 
is likely to be by some degree the most left-wing in Europe.

"I know these people are very left-wing, but why not give them a 
chance?" she told EUobserver.

"Do something for the poor people. The others did everything for the 
rich. They did nothing good."

---

See also http://icelandweatherreport.com/




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