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77 Bills on Government Priorities List

The new parliamentary schedule includes 77 bills, resolutions and reports which government ministers believe it is necessary to pass before the early elections, promised for this autumn.

There are, however, only 14 meeting days scheduled in before the Alþingi parliament will be adjourned to allow June’s presidential election to go ahead. Leaders of the opposition are not happy with the schedule as it stands.

“The list is unrealistic as it contains extensive parliamentary bills that haven’t been written yet,” Social Democrat leader Árni Páll Árnason told Vísir. “There are several good items on the list and others are urgent, but there are very few that couldn’t wait until the autumn. I think it is a desperate attempt by the governing parties to try and justify sitting longer.”

In the coming days, opposition parties plan to request answers on actions to be taken against tax havens and to get reactions from ministers, now that two pension fund chiefs have resigned over the Panama Papers but two Independence Party ministers also named in the famous leak still hold their positions.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, leader of the Left Green Movement, agrees, saying that the list does not hold water. “What is important is that there are bills which haven’t even been written yet and therefore have yet to come to parliament. I don’t see how this is the list of top priorities the governing parties thought they needed to clear before the elections,” she says. “It is still not clear what the governing parties want to do. Since this government was formed there has been a clear call from the parliamentary minority to call elections right away. The governing parties are disconcerted and it would have been best to have called elections right away.”

“This is a compilation of all bills that are in the works, it seems to me, and the government has not revealed what it believes to be top priorities at all. It is hard to see from this list which issues it would be really important for the nation to complete before the election,” says Óttarr Proppé, leader of Bright Future. “The parliamentary schedule will likely break down and therefore the upcoming work of parliament is still cast in shade.”

Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, Pirate captain, is not convinced by the government promise of elections this autumn. “We have seen these parties go back on their word twice when it came to promising ballots. There was no referendum on continuing EU accession talks, nor on changes to the constitution alongside local elections in 2014. I therefore feel it is possible there will be an election this autumn, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the governing parties break their promise,” he says. “This list is clearly just a pretext for the government to say they are so important and the only ones who could get these bills through. We have seen it happen before. In the meantime, we just have to wait and see what happens.”

It looks likely that Alþingi will run until the end of May, then it will break for the presidential election, be on holiday in July, and reconvene at the beginning of August to clear essential bills in time for the autumn.

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