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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 03:41 PM
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At the Polls, Icelanders Punish Conservatives

By JOHN F. BURNS

REYKJAVIK, Iceland It is a tale of light and dark of a small but rugged country far from anywhere that has suffered as severely as any in the developed world at the hands of buccaneering free-marketeers, but which is now slowly digging itself out from the financial wreckage.

An important milestone was reached on Saturday, when the countrys voters went to the polls to elect a new government, three months after riotous street protests over the countrys banking collapse forced the countrys conservative-led administration from office.

With about a third of the final vote counted late Saturday, it seemed that the countrys leftist caretaking government would be formally voted into power, with the Social Democrats projected to gain 22 seats and their partners, the Left-Greens, appearing to gain 13 seats in the 63-seat Parliament. The conservative Independent Party, ousted after a wave of demonstrations in January, was projected to gain just 14 seats with less than 23 percent of the vote, down considerably from its total in 2007. Final results are to be announced on Sunday.

The conservatives were one of the first governments anywhere to lose office because of the global financial crisis, and it seemed clear Saturday that voters in this country of 320,000 were imposing a further reckoning.

The Independent Party has been blamed for a perceived complicity in the banks accumulating unsustainable, multibillion debts, and their partnership with a group of freewheeling Icelandic entrepreneurs known as the New Vikings.

Six months after the banks collapsed and three of the largest were nationalized, the grim consequences are only now becoming fully understood after months of forensic work by financial experts.

Many of the debts that drove the banks to the brink of default were incurred as the New Vikings went on a splurge of acquisitions that made them owners of department store chains, soccer clubs and investment houses in Britain and other parts of Europe, as well as mansions, helicopters and Ferraris on their sojourns at home here in Iceland.

If the final results bear out the early tally, the swing in public opinion would elect a leftist government to power for the first time in the modern history of the Althingi the Parliament, which Icelanders claim to be the worlds oldest continuous legislature along with the prospect of a four-year term.

It would also confirm a remarkable turnaround in the political fortunes of Johanna Sigurdardottir, the 66-year-old caretaker prime minister, who is the first woman to lead Icelands government. Only months ago, before Januarys turmoil, she was readying herself for retirement after 30 years in politics and was widely seen as too feisty, and even too left wing, to rise beyond a series of midlevel coalition cabinet appointments.

Ms. Sigurdardottir is notable, too, for being the first openly declared lesbian to lead a government in the modern world, though her sexual orientation was never a significant election issue. What Icelanders say they like about her, as much as anything, is the way in which she embodies everything the New Vikings did not: a quiet, steady personality uncomfortable with the public spotlight, who chose to stay away earlier this month from a NATO summit meeting in Europe, where she would have met President Obama and other Western leaders for the first time.

In Iceland, the storyline of the election has closely followed the growing partnership at the head of the government between Ms. Sigurdardottir, a former flight attendant, and Steingrimur Sigfusson, the 53-year-old former truck driver and geologist who leads the Left-Greens. He, too, is a combative character, though as much at ease with the hurly burly of politics as the shy Ms. Sigurdardottir is not.

Mr. Sigfusson was finance minister in the caretaker government, a position he is expected to keep after the election, and he says he wants to free Iceland from the consequences of embracing the unrestrained free-marketeering that had its origins in the United States.

What are the people of the United States mad about now? he said in a recent interview. It is the same poisonous philosophy that we had here, based on a lack of moral awareness and greed, and people who thought nothing of flying Elton John into Iceland for their 50th birthdays and paying him 70 million Icelandic kronur, or roughly $600,000.

continued>>>
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/world/europe/26iceland.html?em
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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 03:44 PM
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1. Election results

After considerable delays and an unusually long election night, all ballots have finally been counted.
The coalition parties, the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement have a majority in parliament with 34 MPs out of 63 and could remain in government. Of the 63 elected to Althingi 26 are women, or 43 percent. Eight of those who sought
re-election did not get through. Both of the parties in the governing coalition managed to improve their position and the Independence Party lost a big part of their votes since 2007. Twenty seven new people will be entering the Icelandic Parliament, Althingi following yesterdays elections.
The Elections results

Election letter B - Framsknarflokkurinn (Progressive Party), 27.699 votes or 14.8% and 9 seats (an increase of two)
Election letter D - Sjlfstisflokkurinn (Independence Party). 44.369 votes or 23.7% and 16 seats (lost nine MPs)
Election letter F - Frjlslyndi flokkurinn (Liberal Party), 4148 votes or 2.2% and no seats (lost four)
Election letter O - Borgarahreyfingin (Civic Movement), 13.519 votes or 7.2% and 4 seats (brand new party elected for the first time)
Election letter P - Lrishreyfingin (Democracy Movement), 1107 votes or 0.6% and no seats (brand new party running for the first time)
Election letter S - Samfylkingin (Social Democratic Alliance), 55758 votes or 29.8% and 20 seats (two more MPs than last time)
Election letter V - Vinstri Grnir (Left Green Movement), 40.580 votes or 21.7% and 14 seats (gains five more parliamentarians)

http://www.iceland-dori.blogspot.com/2009/04/left-parties-win-in-iceland-election.html
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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 03:45 PM
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2. Heh heh heh. nt
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