An estimated 8,000 people gathered in Austurvöllur square in front of Alþingi, Iceland’s parliament, yesterday afternoon to protest against the government’s proposed withdrawal from European Union accession talks.
Several prominent Icelanders held speeches at the protest, which concluded with audio clips – from before the election – of Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson promising to hold a referendum on the issue being played over loudspeakers.
Support for the ruling Progressive Party-Independence Party coalition stands at 32 percent, according to the latest Gallup poll published on Friday. Support for the Independence Party dropped last week from 24 percent to 19 percent while support for the prime minister’s Progressive Party fell from 16 percent to 13 percent, resulting in a combined 32 percent. Meanwhile, support for the Social Democratic Alliance and Bright Future was measured at a combined 35 percent.
The majority of members in the parliamentary groups of both ruling coalition parties voted in favor of stopping European Union membership talks last week.
The decision received widespread criticism with many arguing that the nation should have the chance to vote on the matter in a national referendum, as was promised before last year’s general election.
This was the fifth protest on the issue this week.