Ministry of Finance Opposed Hiring of Icelander for Nordic Editorship Skip to content

Ministry of Finance Opposed Hiring of Icelander for Nordic Editorship

By Yelena

Photo: The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs/Fjármálaráðuneytið.

An employee of Iceland’s Ministry of Finance opposed the appointment of Þorvaldur Gylfason, Professor of Economics at the University of Iceland, as editor of the Nordic Economic Policy Review, alleging he was too politically active for the post. Kjarninn reports that Þorvaldur believed he had been hired for the position, only for the offer to be withdrawn following a discussion between Ministries of Finance within the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Emails Suggested Þorvaldur Had Been Hired

Launched in 2009 by the Nordic Ministers of Finance, the Nordic Economic Policy Review is an annual periodical. In early November last year, Þorvaldur received an email from the Nordic Council of Ministers implying he had been hired for the position. “We very much look forward to having you and your expertise with us on the coming editions of the NEPR. And Kjell Nilsson (director at Nordreigo) will help you out with any further practical information for the editorship,” an email stated. In a letter to Þorvaldur, Iceland’s Ministry of Finance claimed he was never officially hired for the position, rather was one of several candidates being considered.

An email exchange later that month between a staff member of Iceland’s Ministry of Finance with a Finnish colleague shows the staff member stated “Iceland is not able to suggest or support Gylfason as editor […] but would rather like to propose an Icelander for the job at a later time than to suggest Gylfason now.” The Finnish colleague replied stating they were “really surprised” by the position Iceland’s Ministry of Finance was taking, adding that public information suggested Þorvaldur “would be a very good candidate.”

Ministry Based Opinion on Wikipedia Article

In their response, the Finance Ministry staff member stated that Þorvaldur was “politically active. He has been, and to the best of our knowledge still is, chairman of the Iceland Democratic Party. We don’t find it appropriate that such a politically active person, particularly someone who chairs a political party, is editor of NEPR.”

Þorvaldur did serve as chairman of the party when it was formed in 2013. It did not win a seat in parliament and he left the position later that same year and has not been active in politics since. Iceland’s Ministry of Finance has since apologised for the mistake, stating in a letter to Kjarninn that the information was based on Þorvaldur’s Wikipedia page, which had been out of date. Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson has stated that he had not been informed about Þorvaldur’s candidacy for the position but “in this case it reflects my desire to neither nominate nor approve Þorvaldur Gylfason for this position. In fact I would have never conceived of the possibility and no one mentioned it to me.”

Þorvaldur has claimed that he still has the right to the editorship as the job offer was never officially revoked in writing. His lawyer has contacted the Nordic Council of Ministers stating Þorvaldur reserves all rights to claim damages from the Council.

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