Sources within the Progressive Party say that its leader Halldór Ásgrímsson, prime minister of Iceland, no longer enjoys the trust of his party and may need to step down, reports Fréttabladid today.
Halldór’s announcement last Friday that Iceland intends to run for a seat on the United Nations Security Council was harshly criticized by Progressives within and outside the government reported the Icelandic National broadcasting Service last Saturday. Gudni Ágústsson, minister of Agriculture and deputy chair of the Progressive Party said that the issue has provoked a crisis within the party. Hjálmar Árnason, leader of the party’s MP’s, said that in his view the final decision on whether or not to run for a seat on the Security Council had still not been taken.
The Progressives are opposed to the decision on two fronts. Many are unhappy with the decision itself and do not want Iceland to take a seat on the Security Council. Others criticize the announcement by Halldór, which makes the Progressive Party responsible for the decision, and say he should have sought political support across the board, similar to what David Oddsson, outgoing foreign minister, recommended doing last week. According to Fréttabladid the Progressives fear they will now be help responsible for the criticism that will come up regarding both the cost of seeking a seat on the council and the possibility of an unsuccessful run.
According to Fréttabladid this is not the first time that Halldór makes a decision without consulting his party. The decision to support the war in Iraq and the decision to support the media bill were not discussed within the party.
Fréttabladid reports that Halldór has increasingly isolated himself and has stopped consulting with those he has trusted for decades. Instead of seeking support from within the party, Halldór makes decisions on his own, and announces them publicly without giving his party advance notice.
According to his assistant Halldór is abroad on holiday and is unavailable for comments.
At the beginning of July, support for the Progressive Party measured in at 8.7% nationwide but only 3.9% in Reykjavík, the lowest it has ever measured in the capital.