A timetable made by the opposition parties in Iceland’s Althingi parliament, the Independence Party, Progressive Party and the Movement, on when each MP should speak and for how long to delay the government’s Icesave bill was leaked to the media yesterday.
The Althingi parliament. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
According to the timetable, an organized filibuster was to take place from 4 pm to 1:30 am on Monday this week. However, the program was disrupted because the budget bill was discussed instead, Fréttabladid reports.
Gudmundur Steingrímsson, MP for the Progressive Party, told Fréttabladid that he did not want to participate in the opposition’s organized filibuster because democracy is about making one’s opinion clear. “I don’t support such work methods in parliament.”
Steingrímsson said that if the government believes that a better agreement on Icesave cannot be reached, it should take responsibility for it and move on to the next matter. There are many other matters to be discussed. Organized filibuster is not the way Althingi should operate.
“I won’t participate in it. I plan to vote against the Icesave agreement and have declared my intention and supported my decision with arguments in a speech, but I have never been listed on any timetable to discuss this matter,” Steingrímsson said.
“I believe it is natural that people present their standpoints with arguments with emphasis on the content, not the length, of a speech. Matters should progress and then be voted on,” Steingrímsson. “At one point I want to press the bell and declare my position. Then others will do the same. That’s how democracy works.”
The government’s amended bill on the state guarantee on loans provided by British and Dutch authorities so that Landsbanki’s Icesave depositors in their countries can be compensated is currently being discussed in parliament.
The government was hoping for a speedy process, while the majority of MPs from the opposition seem determined to delay the vote, and the Icesave bill potentially being passed as law, as long as possible.
The deadline stated in the agreement between the governments of Iceland, the UK and the Netherlands on Icesave has already been exceeded.
More than 20,000 people have signed a petition on the website of the Indefence group, encouraging President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to veto the Icesave legislation after it has been passed in parliament so that it will be subject to a referendum, Fréttabladid reports.
Click here to read more about Icesave.