Resignation or no resignation – Prime Minister´s resignation unclear

UPDATE: Ásmundur Einar Daðason, parliamentary party´s chairman said in an interview with Stundin news outlet that there is no doubt that Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson will step down as prime minister. „He is only leaving the office of prime minister and Sigurður Ingi is taking over, its as simple as that, there has not to be any confusion”, „He is stepping to the sidelines Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson will take over as prime minister“ he emphasized.

It seems that Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson´s assistant has retracted or moderated the news of his resignation with an announcement to foreign press

(below). „The Prime Minister has not resigned and will continue to serve as Chairman of the Progressive Party.“ It then seems that the suggestion to appoint of the minister of Agriculture and Fishing, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (shown in photo) is a temporary measure. Sigurður Már Jónsson, spokesperson of the government sent out the letter below according to the National Broadcasting Service and Kjarninn news outlet. Icelanders are not sure who is prime minister nor who will be prime minister at this point.

Professor of history Guðni Th. Johannesson said in an interview on the national radio that the events of yesterday and today have no precedent in the history of the republic and this latest ploy in an incredible sequence of events seems outlandish, that now It will be hard to say what the continuation is to be. Bjarni Benidiktsson has said that it’s not out of the question to hold hurried elections, and Johannesson maintains that those words hold some weight, that it might be the government is biding time to finish certain tasks, and has the possibility to hold elections this fall open.

There is an outpour of reaction from the public on social media in Iceland and the third protest is set in the afternoon at five on Austurvöllur in front of the parliament building.

Ladies and gentlemen

I call your attention to the following information regarding the Prime Minister of Iceland.

For immediate release:

Prime Minister of Iceland very proud of Government’s success – suggests Progressive Party Vice-Chairman take over the office of Prime Minister for an unspecified amount of time.
Today the Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson has suggested to the Progressive Party Parliamentary group that the Progressive Party Vice-Chairman take over the office of Prime Minister for an unspecified amount of time. The Prime Minister has not resigned and will continue to serve as Chairman of the Progressive Party.

The Prime Minster is very proud of the success of his Government’s policies that have resulted in the resurrection of Iceland’s economy, an unprecedented rise in purchasing power, record low inflation and a general improvement in living standards for the Icelandic people.

The Prime Minister is especially proud of his Government’s handling of Iceland´s situation with the creditors of the failed Icelandic banks. The Prime Minister has devoted much of his time in politics to the challenge of resolving the dramatic balance of payment problem Iceland faced due to banking crisis in 2008. If the creditors of the failed banks, which were nine times the size of the economy, had been allowed to take their claims and exit Iceland with foreign currency, it would have had a devestating impact on the standard of living for Icelanders. Instead the Prime Minister and his Government were able to bring to the table a solution which will have an exceptionally positive impact on the Icelandic economy. The net positive impact to the Icelandic economy is more than three billion GBP, or a quarter of Iceland´s GDP. The net external position of Iceland has never been as good as now.

These facts are acknowledged by international experts, including Lee Buchheit, the Government’s advisor on capital account liberalization and a world renowned authority on sovereign debt reconstruction, who said in a recent interview that the result achieved in settling the failed banks’ estates is unprecedented in world financial history and that this outcome could by no means have been expected.

The Prime Minister’s action reflects his wish to not stand in the way of the important issues that still remain on the Government’s agenda being finished in this term, issues like housing reform and the reform of the financial system that he will continue to fight for in the interest of the Icelandic people.

In recent weeks, the Prime Minister and his wife have provided detailed answers to questions about the assets of the PM’s wife. They have never sought to hide these assets from Icelandic tax authorities and these holdings in Wintris have been reported as an asset on the Prime Minister’s wife’s income tax returns since 2008 and taxes have been paid accordingly in Iceland. No Parliamentary rules on disclosure have been broken. Even The Guardian and other media covering the story have confirmed that they have not seen any evidence to suggest that the Prime Minister, his wife, or Wintris engaged in any actions involving tax avoidance, tax evasion, or any dishonest financial gain.

As up until now, the Icelandic Government continues to use every option available to prevent tax avoidance.


(Image from the collection; Minister of Agriculture and Fishing, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson)