Iceland Still Awaits President’s Icesave Decision Skip to content

Iceland Still Awaits President’s Icesave Decision

President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is still contemplating whether to veto the Icesave legislation, which the Icelandic parliament passed on December 30.

President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.

The number of signatures on the petition urging the president to veto the legislation so that it will be up for a national referendum is still growing. Last night it had reached 62,000 signatures, which represents a quarter of Icelandic voters.

Never before has the president taken so much time to announce his decision on such a matter and the uncertainty is unfortunate, political scientists Ólafur Hardarson and Eiríkur Bergmann told Morgunbladid.

They believe it is possible that the president has already made up his mind but is stalling to announce his decision to emphasize the seriousness of this case.

Chairman of the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson said there is no reason for waiting.

The president must decide whether he will be self-consistent and veto the legislation—or show that the preconditions which he made when the previous Icesave legislation was passed were nothing but empty words, Benediktsson said.

When Grímsson passed the previous legislation he said that he had only done that because of the preconditions the Icelandic parliament had introduced. Not all of these preconditions are included in the new legislation.

Chairman of the Progressive Party Sigmundur Davíd Gunnlaugsson said the president should take the time he requires to contemplate whether to veto the legislation.

He should seek the advice of foreign legal experts, Gunnlaugsson said, after which he will be bound to realize that the agreements between the Icelandic, British and Dutch governments on Icesave are absolutely unacceptable.

This story has reached considerable attention in the foreign media; The Guardian believes it could lead to political instability in Iceland this year.

According to Fréttabladid’s sources from within the Icelandic administration, the Icesave agreements will automatically be annulled if the president vetoes the legislation, in which case it will not be voted on in a national referendum.

Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon would not comment on this story last night other than saying that the ball is in the president’s court and that he must speak with the media himself.

Presidential secretary Örnólfur Thorsson could not say last night when an announcement by the president can be expected.

Law professor Eiríkur Tómasson estimates that if the president does not announce his decision today, he might be in violation of the Icelandic constitution.

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