Iceland is mired in instability. After almost a decade of economic crisis that dragged fall of banks and bankruptcy of country, political storm now arrives. The Nordic country, with a population of 320,000 inhabitants (almost like province of Córdoba), will repeat in one week general elections for second time in a marked year, this time not by a purely legal issue, but by a scandal that affects moral , to transparency of which society so presumes. "The political system has not recovered after collapse of banks in 2008," explains sociologist Helgi Gunnlaugsson. This time, government crisis has come from hand of Benedikt Sveinsson, far of Prime Minister of country, Bjarni Benediktsson (Independence Party). Benedikt signed last spring a letter to restore honor of Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson, a man he knew and who had served a sentence for continued sexual abuse of his stepdaughter under age for five years.
The Icelandic Penal Code includes possibility of restoring honor of a criminal since 1940, year in which Iceland was still under Danish rule. Then, this rule, repealed after scandal, had aim of returning right to vote to condemned. Today, however, this formula is used for a convict to obtain restoration of his honor — criminal record remains — and can be integrated into society. However, it is necessary for three people to sign a letter of recommendation which is subsequently validated by incumbent justice in this case, Sigrídur Á. Andersen, and, at a final stage, by President of country (who does not belong to any party) , currently Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, who has refused to attend this newspaper.New games
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Amid all this political storm, some — like former prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson (Progress Party) — see in se changes opportunity to regain credibility in a country that has already punished him for his appearance in Panama papers. Sigmundur David, after a year apart from public life, has decided to return to ultra fragmented Icelandic political board with his new party: Midflokkurinn (Center Party). "The truth is that it has possibilities," recognizes Björg Eva Erlendsdóttir, secretary general of Green Left who heads all polls.
Anor new formation that will try to enter Althing (Parliament) — where today re are seven forces represented — is Socialist Party of Iceland (different from Icelandic Socialist Party). On May 1, Gunnar Smári Egilsson created a new socialism that sought to recover values of society he considers are not defended through establishment's parties. Experts and analysts, on or hand, do not predict any kind of travel to this training.
Björg Eva Erlendsdóttir, secretary general of Green Left, party that leads all polls in face of elections of October 28, assures indignant that government has fallen by a "purely moral" question. He explains that fact that Prime Minister's far signed letter restoring an excriminal's honor is irrelevant. "It is something that is wholly within law." "No doubt about it," he continues without giving him a glimpse of importance.
Because what has delved deeper into Icelandic consciousness is "little transparency" with which issue has been handled. Iceland is ranked 14th in world's least corrupt countries, according to Berlin-based NGO Transparency International. "The authorities have been keeping firm almost as a state secret," details Helgi. A local journalist who has investigated case has assured this diary that party of Prime Minister (Independence Party) was a connoisseur of scandal and had hidden it. For Elvira Méndez Pinedo, professor of law in Reykjavik, this mess has been " drop that fills glass" and has served as a pretext for minority members of coalition government (bright Future and regeneration) to convene early elections one year After last elections, also precipitated by anor world-wide soap opera.
In October 2016, n prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, was spotted by filtering of Panamanian papers, which made him world's first politician to resign and force early elections. The country had not yet left its capital control — it raised it this year — and anor crisis loomed over Nordic island. "The population feels betrayed [from years of crisis] and politicians are not able to regain confidence of society," sociologist emphasizes. Which would explain permanent crisis in which country lives.
"It is true that economy has recovered and that Iceland has enjoyed economic growth ever seen, but it has not been thanks to political parties," adds sociologist. "This growth is due to external factors, mainly tourism and exports of our products, such as fish," says sociologist.
Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, professor of political science at University of Iceland, believes however that Icelandic executive has been broken by his "weakness", and not only by moral scandal of letter of recommendation. "In a somewhat more stable coalition — for example with a larger majority or with more experienced parties in political life — perhaps this would not have triggered breakdown of government."
The inopportune signature, refore, has not only provoked a crisis of monumental government, but an internal debate of values of country because it has touched one of most sensitive nerves of society: sharpness in public life. "We are a society governed by transparency", sentencing Björg Eva, and proof of this is that, as Helgi says, "If this information [ signature of letter of recommendation] had been made public from outset, this case would not have ended in this way" So dramatic ...