Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, has been keeping quiet about his wife’s business dealings, amid claims the issue is causing a major rift within the coalition government.
News website Vísir reports that its requests for an interview with the PM have been met with silence. Journalists would like to ask the head of government and leader of the Progressive Party about Wintris, his wife’s company, which claimed around ISK 500 million (EUR 3.5 million/USD 4 million) from the bankruptcy estates of Iceland’s fallen banks.
The request, and the questions, were sent to the Prime Minister’s aide with the proviso that a written answer would also be acceptable if the PM is too busy for an interview. No response has yet been received.
Among the unanswered questions are: how much, if anything, did Wintris win back from the banks? And what other assets are in the company?
Opposition MPs have floated the idea of arranging a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, but such a bold move would need the support of at least some Independence Party MPs—which is currently in government with the Progressives. Vísir claims, however, that Independence Party patience with the other half of their government is at breaking point.
Independence Party members are asking why the Prime Minister never publicly announced the potential conflict of interest which has a direct bearing on his government’s top priority: the removal of emergency capital controls on the króna.
Minister of Finance and leader of the Independence Party, Bjarni Benediktsson, is in charge of the capital controls project and it is claimed that Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson didn’t even admit his personal ties with Wintris to him.
Voices within the Independence Party see it as an example of the breakdown of trust between the two coalition parties—alongside the behavior of certain Progressive MPs, including Frosti Sigurjónsson, who voted against parts of the latest budget bill.
Neither party leader has acquiesced to calls for an interview over the issue, but Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Bjarnason said over the weekend that this is out of respect for the internal affairs of the Progressive Party, but that Bjarni may be the first to speak out if Sigmundur continues not to.