Iceland’s outgoing Minister of Industries and Innovation, who also served as Minister of Finance this term, Steingrímur J. Sigfússon asks in an opinion piece in the Financial Times whether any politician can meet the expectations of Europe’s voters.
Steingrímur notes that although Iceland’s response to the financial crisis has been held up as an example of how a country should react to a dramatic economic shock, the governing parties were ousted at the recent election, replaced by those which were blamed for the crisis.
“... in our age of austerity and slower growth, can politicians maintain popularity without the proceeds of a bubble economy?” Steingrímur asks.
The outgoing minister writes that the election promises of the Progressive Party and Independence Party, the two parties which got the most votes, feature the boosting of the economy, lowering of taxes and deregulation. “The vote went for short-term consumption instead of long-term and stable foundations.”
The results of the election should provide food for thought for both politicians and voters, Steingrímur comments.
“Is the only way to meet the insatiable demand for growth to build economies based on quicksand? For that is a recipe for an ever more destructive boom-and-bust cycle.”
Coalition talks between the Independence and Progressive Parties are ongoing.