A record number of demonstrators assembled outside the Icelandic Althingi parliament building late afternoon today to demand the resignation of Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson (SDG), and his government after revelations uncovered under the name of Panama Papers last night. A record number of demonstrators turned up, to fill not only the square in front of the Althingi building but also surrounding streets.
In the programme last night, SDG walked out in the middle of being interviewed. Not good. It was also revealed that he had been lying about his involvement in his wife’s offshore company Wintris. Not good. And he had sold his shares in the company to his wife for a grand total of $1 the day before a change in the law which would have required him to disclose such interests. Not good at all. SDG has been very reluctant to talk to the press and walked out of the Althingi just after the first item on today’s agenda, unprepared questions.
The Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson, who has also been named in the Panama Papers, has been on holiday for 16 days and missed his flight back to Iceland this morning because of a delay in his connecting flight. Why he arranged to travel back to arrive in Iceland to arrive around 6.30 a.m. on the day the Althingi starts functioning again after Easter is another question that hasn’t been answered. He will be questioned thoroughly tomorrow.
Other politicians have also been shown to have assets in tax havens.
In most countries, when a politician is involved in a scandal of some kind, he/she resigns. But it doesn’t look like that will happen in Iceland. At least not at the moment. The government opposition have proposed a vote of no confidence and want the government to resign but at the moment that hasn’t been put on a forthcoming agenda.
UPDATE April 5: It now appears that the Althingi will dissolve sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, another demonstration has been called for today. And the Prime Minister has decided to hand over his position to Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson (SIJ), vice-chair of the Progressive Party. Which isn’t much consolation, as SIJ was pretty disastrous as “environment” minister.
Reykjavík Media, which researched Iceland’s part in the Panama Papers scandal, says that the around 600 Icelanders have links with 800 companies in tax havens like Panama. It will be interesting to see whether any of the Presidential candidates (13 at present) have links to these.