Opposition MPs criticized the absence of the chairpersons of the two ruling coalition parties at the commencement of parliamentary sessions after the Easter break yesterday. Both Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson of the Progressive Party and Bjarni Benediktsson of the Independence Party were not present during question time, mbl.is reports.
Chair of the Left-Greens Katrín Jakobsdóttir criticized Sigmundur Davíð’s absence with just 18 days of parliament left before summer recess, particularly after announcing on Friday that he would launch a plan to remove currency controls before the break. She also highlighted the ongoing strike among members of the Association of Academics (BHM), which includes lawyers, psychologists, physiotherapists, midwives and x-ray technicians.
Chair of Bright Future Guðmundur Steingrímsson criticized the government’s plans to bring big issues to the table without them having previously been presented, especially given the limited number of remaining days before recess.
Parliamentary speaker Einar Kristinn Guðfinnsson had requested that Sigmundur Davíð and Bjarni attend the session, visir.is reports.
Þórunn Egilsdóttir, MP of the Progressive Party, said that Sigmundur Davíð and Bjarni were at a meeting on capital controls and would be present for question time on Thursday.
Journalist Þóra Arnórsdóttir of RÚV news magazine Kastljós said Sigmundur Davíð did not take up an invitation to come on the program last night to discuss the issues raised at the Progressive Party’s congress over the weekend, including his announcement that a plan to lift capital controls will be launched in the next few weeks.
According to visir.is, Sigmundur Davíð was attending a hockey game between Iceland and Belgium at the time Kastljós is broadcast. Sigmundur posted his congratulations to Iceland, which won 3-0, on Facebook.
Sigmundur Davíð has been criticized in the past for absences. In October 2013, Social Democrat MP Helgi Hjörvar said: “This is the third unplanned question time in a row that the prime minister is away, it’s been ten days and heading towards three weeks in total, at a time when parliament is the busiest, when the PM is unavailable to answer our questions.” Sigmundur Davíð was reportedly on holiday with his family at the time.