Parking Fees Rise in Downtown Reykjavík

architecture downtown Reykjavík houses square

Higher parking fees took effect in central Reykjavík this month and have been criticised by some politicians and locals. The city has instituted paid parking on Sundays for the first time and extended the hours when parking is paid on other days.

In the P1 and P2 zones, parking will be paid until 9:00 PM throughout the week. It was previously free after 6:00 PM on weekdays and 4:00 PM on Saturdays. On Sundays, parking will be subject to fees between 10:00 AM and 9:00 PM.

Three-hour limit in P1 and P2

Guðbjörg Lilja Erlendsdóttir, Director of Transport at the City of Reykjavík, says this change was implemented to accommodate residents and shop owners in the city centre. “The aim of the fees is that as many people as possible can get parking when they need it. Therefore, in toll zone 1, where there are a lot of shops and services, we are also implementing a maximum time of three hours, and are extending the toll hours in zones 1 and 2. All this is done so that residents and visitors get more parking when they need it,” Guðbjörg told RÚV. It’s important to note that residents within paid parking zones can apply for residential cards, allowing them to park within applicable parking zones for free.

Fee increase to ISK 600 in P1

In the P1 zone, the cost of parking will also increase to ISK 600 [$4.31, €4.11] per hour, from the previous rate of ISK 430 [$2.95, €3.09] per hour. However, parking will now be free in zone P3 on Saturdays. A count revealed that parking spaces were better used on Sundays than Saturdays, so the change may help to better distribute weekend traffic in the city centre.

Independence Party politician Kjartan Magnússon criticised the steep price hike in the P1 zone, which amounts to some 40%. Guðbjörg says there has been relatively little response to the changes overall, however.

New Group to Fight for Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights

Judge's gavel

A new organised interest group for sexual assault survivors was established in Iceland yesterday, RÚV reports. The group will fight for shortened case processing times for sexual offences, which can take over two years, as well as less lenient sentencing for convicted perpetrators. Guðný Bjarnadóttir, a survivor herself, decided to found the group after her own experience of the Icelandic justice system.

“The goal of the group is both to educate and to improve the legal status of victims,” Guðný explains. “As it stands today, sexual assault victims are just witnesses and the scene of the crime. It is very strange that such a case can be processed without the victim coming anywhere near it.” The Icelandic justice system assigns victims of sexual offences the status of witnesses in their own cases, affecting their access to case data, for example. “This is just one of the things that needs to be changed,” Guðný stated.

Guðný has criticised the Icelandic police for their handling of her own sexual offence case, which was eventually dropped. While she pressed charges for the offence three days after it occurred, the police did not call in the accused for questioning until five and a half months later. Then, another two years passed until her case was dismissed. “When you went and pressed charges, I found out that you’re just alone, there’s no one to look after you, through the legal system. And that is just unacceptable.”

No suspended sentences

Along with fighting to shorten procedure times, Guðný says the newly-founded group wants to see an end to suspended sentencing (probation) as a punishment for convicted perpetrators of sexual assault. Suspended sentencing, which is fairly common in the Icelandic justice system, means that although a perpetrator has been convicted and sentenced to serve time in prison, the sentence is suspended on the condition that the defendant does not commit another offence during that time period.

In a related case that made headlines in Iceland lately, a man was convicted of intimate partner violence but was not required to undergo any punishment or rehabilitation.

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse you can get help by calling 112 or through the 112 webchat. The emergency service in Iceland has a guide to the Icelandic justice system for victims of sexual offences in English.

Support for Social Democratic Alliance Passes 30%

Social Democratic Alliance Kristrún Frostadóttir

The Social Democratic Alliance enjoys by far the most support of any party in Iceland according to the latest poll from Gallup. The party has passed the 30% mark in the monthly poll for the first time in 14 years. The next most popular party is the Independence Party, trailing behind the Social Democratic Alliance at 20.4%. RÚV reported first.

Support more than tripled

Support for the Social Democratic Alliance has more than tripled since October 2021 (just after the last parliamentary election) when it measured 9.8% support. The Social Democratic Alliance currently occupies six of the 63 seats in Iceland’s parliament, serving in the opposition. If an election were held today, the party could win as many as 19 seats, if voting were in line with the Gallup poll.

Independence Party support flags

The Independence Party’s support has been dropping fairly steadily since October 2022, when it measured 24.4%. The Independence Party is currently in the governing coalition alongside the Left-Green Movement and the Progressive Party, whose following measures at 5.7% and 8.1% respectively. The remaining parties in the poll all come in at between 9.6% (Pirate Party) and 3.9% (Socialist Party). The People’s Party enjoys 5.7% support, the Reform Party 7.9% support, and the Centre Party 8.6% support.

Rose to power following banking collapse

The Social Demcoratic Alliance is chaired by Kristrún Frostadóttir, who recently took over the position from Logi Már Einarsson. The party was formed in 2000 through the merger of four centre-left political parties. It emerged as the largest party following the snap 2009 election in the aftermath of the banking collapse in Iceland, forming a coalition government with the Left-Green Movement, Iceland’s first-ever majority left-wing government. The Social Democratic Alliance is the second-largest party in the Reykjavík City Council, under the leadership of Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson.

The Gallup poll was conducted between September 1 and October 1. The sample size was 11,005 with a participation rate of 48.5%.