In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Posts Tagged ‘Iceland’

We need far more radical changes

Posted by seumasach on February 5, 2009

Iceland Weather Report

4th February, 2009

Our third in a series of interviews featues Icelandic singer/songwriter and activist Hördur Torfason. He is the man behind Raddir fólksins [Voices of the People], a grassroots organization that has planned Saturday demonstrations in downtown Reykjavík since last October. It is largely due to his tireless work and perseverence over the past few weeks that the Icelandic people were able to force, through protests, the recent change in government.

IWR: How are you feeling, now that the protests have produced the desired results?

HT: I feel many things … on the one hand I’m elated that some of our demands have been met, and happy about this major victory that intensive planning and perseverence have brought about. On the other hand I am absolutely exhausted. It’s been a massive comedown in the last few days. I normally sleep six hours a night; I’ve been sleeping 12 a night and I’m still tired.

IWR: When you started, did you imagine that things would turn out this way?

HT: I had nothing specific in mind. The first Saturday of the demonstrations I just stood out on Austurvöllur with an open microphone and invited people to speak. I talked to people, listened to people, wrote things down. I was indignant … I felt that my human rights were being violated, in that a few people could bankrupt my country in this way and put me and my fellow citizens into such massive debt.

hordur_torfason_779031The following Saturday we had our first organized demonstration. However, I was uncomfortable with it because it focused on only one individual, making one person responsible for the entire debacle.* To me it was important for the demonstrations to reflect as many opinions and viewpoints as possible, that they truly be the Voices of the People, and not a platform for political or religious organizations. It’s been a constant effort to keep away groups that have wanted to infiltrate the movement. It has become a major draw for them when they see how successful the demonstrations are.

At the beginning of the demonstrations there was a lot of unfocused anger around, as people tried to come to grips with what had happened. Our demands really took shape on the third Saturday, as we began to gain a better focus. They were: RÍKISSTJÓRNINA BURT! [away with the government!], STJÓRN SEÐLABANKANS BURT! [away with the Central Bank’s board!], STJÓRN FJÁRMÁLAEFTIRLITSINS BURT! [away with the board of the Financial Supervisory Authority!], and KOSNINGAR EINS FLJÓTT OG AUÐIÐ ER! [elections asap!]. That is also when Raddir fólksins was formally established.

IWR: With the recent changes, what will happen to the protests? Will the Saturday demonstrations continue?

HT: I think protests will continue because I feel that we need far more radical changes than we have seen thus far. The changes have to be made so we do not fall back into the same old pattern. The forces of corruption must be eliminated. Our entire system is decayed and needs to be completely rebuilt. Besides, one of our demands has not been met – we have seen no significant changes at the Central Bank. But we have this new government now and we need to give them a chance, to see what they will do.
As for the Saturday demonstrations, I’m not sure. We’ve reached a major milestone and that always calls for reflection. At the moment I’m taking a breather, considering my next move.

IWR: We have elections coming up in April … will you or Raddir fólksins stand for election?

HT: No. I am not a political person. I have no political or religious affiliations. I am an artist and it is my job to criticize and to fight for human rights. As far as I know, none of the people who have taken part in this work with me intend to run for office. Raddir fólksins is a group of independent, thinking people who want to facilitate change. But it is not a political movement.

The only thing I dream about now is going back to my daily routine, attending to my home, my songwriting, and to be able to travel and explore the world.

* The first organized demonstration focused solely on the removal of Central Bank Director Davíð Oddsson and was widely criticized. Subsequently the organizers split into two factions; however, the other did not operate for long.

[The image of Hördur Torfason was nicked from Lára Hanna and is used by permission.]

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What’s Next for Iceland: Ensuring a Fair Election in May

Posted by seumasach on January 27, 2009

“Our only hope now is a peaceful transition from a corrupt plutocracy to the responsible liberal democracy we had fooled ourselves into believing we already had.”

Concealed within the forms and norms of Western democracy lurk “a small group of megalomaniacs” ,”a corrupt plutocracy” who subvert its workings. The revolution in the West consists in large part of the removal of these miscreants from all proximity to the reins of power.

Iris Erlingsdottir

Huffingdon Post

23rd January, 2009

Icelandic Prime Minister Geir Haarde, leader of the Independence Party, announced at a press conference today that he was stepping down for health reasons and called for parliamentary elections on May 9th. Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, leader of the Social Democratic Alliance, which formed the other faction in the ruling coalition government, also stated that she favored spring elections.

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Power to the people!!

Posted by seumasach on January 26, 2009

“This is history in the making, people. Momentous and incredible.”

by ALDA on JANUARY 25, 2009

Viva la revolucion bolivarista en Islandia! We are seeing the beginning of the pattern that unfolded in Bolivia and elsewhere in South America: sections of the corrupt elite crumbling away before popular pressure. Alda is right- Iceland is “at the very center of change” but not just in Iceland. Hopefully we can bring this model of protest to the UK where 60 million people are being left to the tender mercies of a vicious financier elite who have everyone in their pockets, most of all the government.

by ALDA on JANUARY 25, 2009

Iceland Weather Report

Please click on link to see videos

The Minister of Commerce and Banking announced his resignation this morning. He moreover announced that he had dismissed the director and board of the Financial Supervisory Authority.

wOOOOOOt!!!

Seriously, I feel like doing a frenzied African war dance in my living room. In fact …

[…]

wOOOOOOt!!!

OK, now that that’s out of the way it’s time to get cynical [because, you know, despite my empathy with people with cancer and suchlike I can get cynical with the best of you … er … them]…

The minister would have us believe that this is a “decision of conscience”, thereby exposing his own simple-mindedness as I don’t think any thinking person will believe that. If this was so, why didn’t he resign weeks ago?  On the contrary it is evident that this is merely a well-constructed ploy [and not even that well constructed, really] to enhance his image now that elections have been called. With any luck [on his part] he will only have to be out of a job for about four or five months and will then be re-elected; had he not resigned, however, the chances of that would have been slim. He is a minister for the Social Democratic Alliance, which has plummeted in popularity over the last week or so, and I suspect he feels this is his – and their – only chance at re-election.

Still, he’s the first one to publicly shoulder responsibility for the economic implosion, despite not even having been in government when the whole system was engineered, so we can give him -1 point on the Bananarepublic-o-meter for that. And -2 points for kicking the fricking amateurs at the FSA out on their butts before he left. No, make that -3 points. Huzzah!!

Meanwhile, the Central Bank board operates under the auspices of the Prime Minister who has done nothing but declare his unfailing devotion to Davíd Oddsson and his cronies at the bank. We shall see if the Independence Party pulls a similar stunt as the SDA to raise its popularity, although with the unnatural power that Doddsson appears to wield over the PM and his people I don’t expect a great deal from that camp.

MEANWHILE, I PROMISED A REPORT
On yesterday’s demonstration, which was incredible. To be perfectly honest, I half-expected that with the government’s concession to the public, i.e. calling elections this spring, protester numbers would drop off and people would slink back into complacency. Not so. Yesterday’s demonstration was the most well-attended to date, with over 5,000 people participating. The energy was incredible – vastly different from the strong undercurrent of of anger, hopelessness and despair that has prevailed of late. It’s like our latest victory [the PM’s intention to call elections] has unleashed tremendous energy and elation and yesterday’s demonstration was almost like a celebration. It was fantastic to be there, at the very center of change and at such a momentous time in the history of our nation.

Here is part of an excellent speech by writer Guðmundur Andri Thorsson [unfortunately slightly truncated] which will give you small idea of the atmosphere and also protester numbers:

When the demonstration ended, the organizers announced from the podium that a choir would sing in front of the parliament building. This has never happened before. Happily we were standing nearby and so we got to hear them perform two of our most beautiful national songs: Land míns föður, landið mitt [The land of my father, my land] and Hver á sér fegra föðurland [Who has a more beautiful fatherland?]. It was very moving, and really lifted the mood. I managed to record a little bit of the former song, here:

As soon as they had finished, people started once more banging drums, pots, pans and whatever they had, and chanting Vanhæf ríkisstjórn![Incompetent government!]. It’s like a tribal chant that has been ongoing for the past week, and it’s fantastic.

This is history in the making, people. Momentous and incredible.

IT’S A CALM AND MILD SUNDAY
I suppose this is what is called “light air” according to the Beaufort wind scale [if you’ve been using the forums, you may have noticed the different ranks given to people according to number of posts – you start off calm and work your way up to a hurricane…] – and it sure looks nice out there. Gentle sunshine this morning but it is currently overcast in the capital, with temps at 2°C [36F]. Sunrise was at 10:28 am and sunset due for 4:53 pm. This afternoon at 3 pm there is yet another demonstration, this time on Lækjartorg square, to protest vandalism and violence against the police.

Posted in Financial crisis, Revolution in Iceland | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Police Officers Injured after Clash with Protestors

Posted by seumasach on January 22, 2009

 

Iceland Review

22nd January, 2009

Two police officers are seriously injured after being hit with flagstones during a struggle with protestors on Austurvöllur parliament square in Reykjavík last night. Police resorted to the use of tear gas bombs—the first time such a tactic has been used since the protests in 1949.

From the protests on Tuesday. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Protestors fled the scene and one protestor was taken to the emergency room because of the gas. After the smoke cleared, people returned to the square, some stoning police, who again resorted to tear gas, Morgunbladid reports.

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Denmark, Iceland look again at euro as crisis takes its toll

Posted by smeddum on October 27, 2008

Denmark, Iceland look again at euro as crisis takes its toll
27 October 2008, 23:50 CET EUbusiness.com
(STOCKHOLM) – Denmark and Iceland, two of the four Nordic countries still outside the eurozone, have begun seriously debating swapping their currencies for the euro as they take a beating in the global financial crisis.

“The issue of Europe and the euro is directly linked to the crisis,” the head of Iceland’s Institute of Economic Studies, Gunnar Haraldsson, told AFP.

Norway and Sweden have been less affected by the financial turmoil and debate there has been muted, while Finland is the only Nordic country to be a member of the eurozone. Read the rest of this entry »

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Iceland facing Bankruptcy halts trading

Posted by smeddum on October 10, 2008

Iceland halts stock trading
From Chicago Tribune news services
October 10, 2008

Iceland suspended trading on its stock exchange for two days and took control of the country’s largest bank—the third to be placed under its protective umbrella—on Thursday as it grappled with a banking crisis that is threatening to engulf the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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Terror as Iceland faces economic collapse

Posted by seumasach on October 7, 2008

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The Icelandic Government seized control of the country’s biggest banks last night in an attempt to fend off wholesale economic collapse.

Turmoil at the banks, whose shares were suspended by the Government yesterday afternoon, had sparked panic in the tiny state, which has a population of 300,000, about the size of Coventry.

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The party’s over for Iceland, the island that tried to buy the world

Posted by seumasach on October 5, 2008

 

An off-shore economy based on financial wheeling and dealing and extravagant consumption being forced to look for salvation in Europe and the euro: this is the spectre of Britain to be.

Tracy McVeigh

Guardian

5th October, 2008

The snow has arrived early in Reykjavik after an unusually long and warm summer. The freeze has brought out the ghostly green haze of the aurora borealis – the Northern Lights – the shape of which shifts dramatically across the tiny city’s black skies.

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