Q&A – Updated 7 April – from Icelandic Pirate Party MP’s

What do you predict will happen next?

The coalition government has reshuffled its cabinet; The Prime Minister has left the stage and the Progressive Party has appointed the Fisheries Minister as their new PM. Bjarni Benediktsson, the incumbent Finance Minister will not resign despite vocal calls from the general public for him to do so. It is of course very unfortunate that the Icelandic people have to live with having a Finance Minister who has been shamefully exposed by the Panama Papers.

Photo: Birgir Thor Hardarson

The Finance Minister, Bjarni Benediktsson and the prospective Prime Minister, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson claimed yesterday that they plan to expedite the election until this fall, possibly this winter. Members of the coalition government have claimed they will not expedite the elections if the opposition stands in the way of the government’s plans to finish the legislation they deem necessary to conclude before they call for new elections. These threats of the government include any attempt of the opposition to obstruct the government’s plans to lift capital controls, in force in Iceland since the banking crisis in 2008.

The opposition will put forward a fresh resolution on a vote of no confidence as soon as the new cabinet has been formally established later today (Thursday). The vote of no confidence will be debated tomorrow, Friday at 1pm.

We expect ongoing protests in the next few days because many people here in Iceland feel that the coalition parties have not done nearly enough to take responsibility for their unethical betrayal of the public´s trust.  Furthermore, we are adamant that it is by no means sufficient to swap two or three ministers around in the cabinet. It is especially offensive that our former PM,  Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, continues to sit as a general Member of Parliament and chairman of the Progressive Party.   The Parliamentarians of the Pirate Party fully support the protests outside Parliament; after all, our core values as a party honor freedom of expression and direct democracy.

How do you view the current situation and the PM’s resignation?  

It is still not clear if Mr. Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson the PM of Iceland has formally resigned, that being the case, the demand for a vote of no confidence must be heard and put in motion in Parliament as soon as possible, the opposition parties have made it clear to the speaker of the house that we want it on the agenda tomorrow towards Mr. Gunnlaugsson and his government and no later than next Friday if he resigns towards the new government.

The people of Iceland are calling for new elections in the wake of the Panama-paper revelations. Two days ago we had the largest protest to date in Iceland where these demands were very prominent. In our capacity as the representatives of the Icelandic people we must listen to them and push for new elections as soon as possible.

It is obvious that we are faced with a serious political crisis. The current situation is extremely uncertain, trust in the government has reached its lowest point both in Parliament, and with the nation at large.

How do you feel about the plan to only reshuffle figures in the Cabinet?

A simple switch like that would not solve anything. We as all the parties in the minority are united in our plan to put forward a motion of distrust on any government formed now, without elections first, or a clear and set date for new elections.

In the protests people are not calling for a new figure from the Progressive party as a Prime Minister. The people want the Prime Minister to resign and they do not want more of the same. They want new elections.

What needs to happen now in your view?

The government has to listen to the people of this country and acknowledge that they have completely lost the confidence of their people.  Not only has the Prime Minister lost all credibility, so has, the rest of his cabinet. We are of course aware that there is no tradition for that to be the case here in Iceland.  The last government that lost trust in a similar fashion was the government of Mr. Geir Haarde in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008. They did not have the wisdom to listen until they got seriously scared by the growing intensity of the protests after which they finally resigned with disgrace.

The next logical course of action is for the government to recognize that they should resign. It is wholly unacceptable for them to shun the will of Parliament; the opposition’s motion of a vote of no confidence must be scheduled immediately. New elections are the only acceptable resolution to this crisis.

What would be the next steps to restore the stability in the country?

  1. Set a date for new elections, (in a few weeks).
  2. After the election we need to establish a new foundation to build our society  – we have to continue and finalize the adoption of a new constitution:

We cannot restore full stability until we have a new constitution. The people have demanded a new constitution since before our last parliamentary elections. The current ambiguity and uncertainty clearly demonstrates the flaws in our old constitution as its processes for dissolving government are wholly unclear. This situation shows us clearer than ever how dire the need for a newer, clearer and more democratic constitution is here in Iceland.

Why is the Pirate Party scoring this high in polls?

Like we always say, it’s birds in the woods and we can’t count them until we have some in our hands, which would be the results of elections. We are of course still surprised by the popularity of the party – It’s the big riddle we’re always trying to solve.

The confidence of the Icelandic people we believe rests in us, not only because we are a party that has not been a part of government, but also we think it is because people sense that we stand for enacting changes that have to do with reforming the systems, rather than changing minor things that might easily be changed back. Our policies therefore stand in stark contrast to what appears to be the pattern of modern politics; minor changes but always the same dysfunctional system. We do not define ourselves as left or right but rather as a party that focuses on the systems. In other words, we consider ourselves hackers – so to speak – of our current outdated systems of government.

Is the Pirate Party ready for new elections?

The Pirate Party is a new political party, it was founded three and a half years ago. We have been through elections twice, first in general elections and then in municipal elections. We can assume that this time will be very different since we are scoring around 40% in the polls. We are often asked if we have enough good people to run for Parliament. The answer is YES we do. We have a lot of great and willing people. Of course it will be tremendous work but in the end we are just as prepared (or unprepared) as all the other political parties in Iceland. Most importantly; we are ready for the tasks ahead and are looking forward to this unique opportunity to help manifest the New Iceland people are calling for. Our goal is to enact meaningful and positive changes in our system and in our society. We will carry on calling for the wisdom of the masses and seek both local and global experts to guide us on this path.

People in Iceland are sick of corruption and nepotism. The Icelandic Pirate Party will not be able to solve all of the ingrown problems in Iceland but it will certainly be able to offer new hardware, complete with a new set of rules based on how we operate as a collective community.

We want to be the Robin Hood of power: We take away the power from the powerful and give it to the general public of Iceland. Our strongest weapons are our plans to enact a new constitution which has great democratic provisions civil engagement tools such as the web platform “Better Iceland.”