Musings, politics and environmental issues

Posts tagged ‘Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson’

Sexist political comments create rage amongst Icelanders

Last month, six Icelandic politicians from two political parties, the Middle Party and the People’s Party, were drinking together at a bar opposite the parliament building (where their fellow politicians were still meeting). They were there for over three hours and were making loud, derogatory, misogynist remarks about a number of their fellow women colleagues (and former colleagues) as well as boasting about corruption incidents that some of them had been involved in.

Unknown to them, another guest was so disgusted by their behaviour that he recorded the conversations on his phone and later sent them to three of the more radical media outlets, two of which – DV and Stundin – worked with the recordings.

The politicians also made fun of Freyja Haraldsdottir, a disabled activist who was an alternate politician in the Althingi a few years ago. The comments about her have enraged the disabled rights’ movement.

Two of the politicians were Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson and Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson (remember him?). While he was Foreign Affairs Minister, Gunnar Bragi had set up the Barbershop “He for She” event in New York in 2015 to support non-sexist male attitudes and behaviour between men. Rather ironic really. The national committee of UN Women has said that GBS has damaged the reputation of He for She.

The two PP politicians, who made derogatory remarks about their leader, Inga Sæland, have been expelled from their party but will still be in the Althingi because they were elected as individuals. The PP now has only two members in the Althing.

The expelled members might well eventually join the Middle Party, as that was part of the conversation recorded in the bar. They have denied this, however – or at least have said that the time is not opportune to join another party. As many people have suspected, the Middle Party say that their policies are actually very similar to those of the PP party.

Meanwhile, GBS and a fellow Middle Party politician have decided to talk a break from the Althingi for an unspecified amount of time. They were “uninvited” to the traditional celebration held by Iceland’s president to celebrate Iceland’s sovereignty over Denmark, which took place on Thursday night.  The female MP politician, Anna Kolbrun Arnadottir (AKA) has said she is considering her situation (she and SDG were at the party).

In some countries, such as Sweden, politicians resign over mild scandals. But that rarely happens in Iceland.

Icelanders are enraged at the situation and a demonstration was called at short notice for today. It was expected to be attended by over 3,000 people, but was probably attended by more. The organizers are demanding that all six resign from the Althingi and get replaced by their alternates. One person said that an election should be called, as that’s the only way to get rid of them. Stay tuned.

Anyone want an article on this?

Update, December 5: There is such a tense, uncomfortable atmosphere now in the Althingi because 4 of the 6 are still present (and AKA and SDG have now both said they won’t resign) that I predict another election because the current atmosphere is unworkable.


Iceland’s foreign minister says Iceland should kill less whales

Iceland’s foreign minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, has just realized that some people from some countries are somewhat contemptuous of Iceland because of its whaling activities. Well, maybe contemptuous is a bit strong but Iceland is viewed somewhat negatively by some. He has just said that Iceland should consider cutting down on its whaling activities to appease international society.

What he doesn’t realize is that Iceland will have to stop ALL of its whaling activities if it is to be regarded positively. Reducing whaling is not enough – it has to stop completely. And that goes for both minke whales and fin whales, though international attention is mainly focused on the latter.

Iceland no longer seeking EU membership – official (almost)

Iceland’s Foreign Minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, was in Slovakia early this evening and gave a letter to his counterpart there to say that Iceland was no longer one of the countries seeking EU membership and that negotiations would not be taken up in the future either. Slovakia currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU.

But this was not something that had been decided by the parliamentary Althing. Oh no. It had been decided at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Not surprisingly, the reaction to the statement has been huge. Opposition members of the Althing said the topic should have been discussed at the Althing before a decision was taken – this actually happened a year ago but no decision was made at the time. Even an ex-Independent Party MP and Education Minister, Thorgerdur Katrin Gunnarsdottir, said on Facebook that surely the ruling coalition had enough members in the Althing to ensure that the decision would be passed. She called the decision process cowardly.

Katrin Jakobsdottir from the Left-Greens said that parliamentary rules had effectively been broken and that the matter would be brought up at the Althing, “whether or not the government likes it or not”. And Birgitta Jonsdottir from the Pirate Party said that this should herald the beginning of the end for this government.

A demonstration was called for 8 p.m. tonight (the news broke at 6 p.m.) and apparently about 200 people turned up – not bad, considering the short notice given. Another demonstration has been called for 2 p.m. Sunday.

Update: The EU says that the letter has been taken into account but that the accession process has not been formally halted.