Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson

The prime minister of Iceland – To resign or not to resign

The prime minister of Iceland Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson now faces great pressure to resign office. Not only from the people of Iceland who made their demands clear today at the protest in Reykjavik and in Akureyri but the pressure also comes from his own party.

The progressive party in Akureyri issued a statement yesterday saying that due to a breach of confidence between him and the party he should resign. Akureyri is known to be a strong hold of the two parities in government, particularly the progressive party. The independent party of Akureyri issued a similar statement, saying the alliance between the independent party and the progressive party can no longer function as a ruling government.

The independent party in Reykjavík awaits the party’s chairman Bjarni Benidiktsoon and much will depend on the conclusion he reaches after conferring with his party and with the prime minister. Benidiktsoon was due back to Iceland from the US yesterday but according to his office his plain was delayed. He is due back today.

The opposition filed a motion of no confidence yesterday, with a proposal to remove the prime minister and his government, calling for the dissolution of parliament and new elections. The leaders of the opposition, Árni Páll Árnason, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Óttarr Proppé and Birgitta Jonsdottir submitted the motion.

Professor of history Guðni Th. Johannesson said in a daily talk show Kastljós, following the news last night, that a parallel between the situation of the government now and in 2008 can certainly be drawn. The government was dissolved and a hurried election was held in 2009, electing the then opposition to office forming a coalition of three parties. “It will be hard for the Independent party to support the Prime Minister staying in office. – The coalition hangs by a thread” he added.

Prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson maintained today that he has no intention of resigning nor has he contemplated the possibility. He recognized that he should have revealed the information about his and his wife’s offshore finances sooner and apologizes for not doing so. He also apologized for walking out on an interview with the National Broadcasting Service of Iceland and Swedish reporter Sven Bergman from SVT after faced with questions about his finances in Tortola on Mars 11th, saying in essence that that´s no way for a prime minister to behave. However he maintains that nothing illegal has taken place, that he and his wife have always paid taxes of their assets in the tax haven abroad and that he wants nothing more than to continue to work for the government on the matters at hand.

The international spotlight was certainly on Iceland and the finances of the leaders of the two ruling parties in government yesterday, another protest is allready brewing for today and the Panama Papers are still being processed with more information most likely coming to light in the coming days and weeks as they are pieced together.