Protests have been called for outside Iceland’s Althingi parliament tonight at 7:30 when Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir will give her keynote speech. People are urged to show up with items that can make a lot of noise.
From the protests in 2008. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
“Let’s not forget that the institution that ruined the financial system two years ago with its incompetence and corruption also ruined democracy with the voting on the High Court last Tuesday,” a Facebook site dedicated to the protests, where they are called ‘The Barrel Protests’, reads. Around 1,000 people have registered, Fréttabladid reports.
A video entitled ‘Power to the People’ showing clips from the so-called ‘Pots and Pans Revolution’ which toppled the previous government was posted on YouTube as encouragement.
“The banks are writing off debts for tycoons and ex-politicians but hang the families of thousands of Icelanders out to dry,” the video says. “Stop! Wherever we stand it is the civic duty for all of us to protest.”
The police have not decided whether special measures will be taken because of the protests outside the parliamentary building on Austurvöllur square tonight.
On Friday when parliament was set and a sermon was held at the Reykjavík Cathedral, 3,000 people protested at Austurvöllur square.
According to Fréttabladid, the demonstration was mostly peaceful but some protestors threw eggs, bread, car keys and other loose objects towards ministers and MPs.
“I can understand these protests. There is significant dissatisfaction and anger in society because of all of the things that have happened and many people have encountered difficulties,” commented Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon.
Sigfússon said the message is to be taken seriously. However, he does not believe new elections with the accompanying uncertainty are a solution. Politicians should rather work together on solving the problems at hand.
“I have full understanding that people who are suffering because of the crisis demonstrate their anger because there are many big unsolved problems as is clear by the forced auctions of people’s homes,” added Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson.
“It is inherent that people protest loudly outside Althingi but I think it has gone too far when people smash windows in a church while a sermon is taking place,” Skarphédinsson added.
The minister said the government is working its way out of the economic difficulties, however, a solution must still be sought for people who are about to or have lost their homes.
Yet, he does not believe elections will solve anything, pointing out that the government still has a majority in parliament according to a recent survey. It has a job to do and it intends to finish that job, Skarphédinsson concluded.
Click here to watch a video clip of the protests on national broadcaster RÚV.