Birgitta Jónsdóttir. member of the Icleandic Althing [parliament] and founder of the Pirate Party. Via Wikipedia.
First up, while the media have reported that Iceland’s prime minister has resigned over the offshore banking scandal triggered by the massive leaks of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, there’s a new twist.
From the McClatchy Washington Bureau [emphasis added]:
Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson said he was stepping aside following the largest anti-government protests in modern times in Iceland, a sign of the public anger over his family’s offshore holdings.
Iceland’s fisheries minister announced that Gunnlaugsson had stepped down, according to state broadcaster RUV.
In a statement late Tuesday, Gunnlaugsson’s office said he “has not resigned” and was merely stepping aside “for an unspecified amount of time” and would remain as chairman of his ruling Progressive Party. It said the party’s deputy leader, Sigurdur Ingi Jóhannsson, would take over as prime minister. Whether disgruntled Icelanders would allow Gunnlaugsson to return to the post in the future was far from clear.
But if his ouster becomes official, who’s his likely replacement?
Enter the poetician. . .
Here at esnl, we’ve been longtime fans of Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a poet and artist who cut her political teeth as a high-profile volunteer with Wikileaks, then moved on to electoral politics, forming two political parties and now heading the leading parliamentary power in the parliament that will soon meet to elect a new prime minister.
She heads the civil libertarian Pirate Party, one of the two she founded, and calls herself a poetician rather than a politician.
It’s fitting that the job is now vacant — ore nearly so — because of another leak, the massive document dump listing the clients of a Panamanian law firm specializing in setting up front to hide plutocratic wealth for government tax collectors.
From Judith Ehrlich, Oscar-nominated director of The Most Dangerous Man in America, Daniel Ellsberg & The Pentagon Papers, here’s a quick 2014 look at Jónsdóttir and some of her accomplishments:
The Mouse That Roared
Here’s what Jónsdóttir told the Sydney Morning Herald about the latest developments:
Birgitta Jonsdottir, ex Mullumbimby and Melbourne resident, former colleague of Julian Assange, now official ‘poetician’ for Iceland’s Pirate Party, admits with some surprise that she might be her country’s next prime minister.
“Statistically, that’s very possible,” she says. “But then, that is not my main goal.”
Ms Jonsdottir, a member of parliament for the Iceland’s Pirate Party, says Mr Gunnlaugsson had taken his colleagues by surprise with his visit to the president.
“He had not consulted with anybody and they were like so pissed off,” she said. “They did not conceal it, they were just seething.” They had then forced him to resign, she says.
“It’s been a really long day… this whole day was totally bizarre in so many different ways.”
To get an idea of the man whose job she stands to inherit, here’s what hapopened when a Swedish television report held his feet to the fire with questions about those offshore companies incorporated by those Panamanian money hiders.
From videos hahaha:
Iceland’s prime minister walks out of interview over tax haven question
Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, the prime minister of Iceland, walks out of an interview with Swedish television company SVT. Gunnlaugsson is asked about a company called Wintris, which he says has been fully declared to the Icelandic tax authority. Gunnlaugsson says he is not prepared to answer such questions and decides to discontinue the interview, saying: ‘What are you trying to make up here? This is totally inappropriate’
If you’d like to learn more about Jónsdóttir, here’s a link to a TedX talk she delivered last June. Her Twitter account is here.
UPDATE: Newsweek has just posted an essay by Jónsdóttir on her party’s sudden change in political fortunes, in which she writes:
Currently we are experiencing similar events to that which Iceland experienced in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008. And yet we still don’t have a satisfactory system for holding those in power to account—other than standing outside the parliament and screaming it out loud.
The constitution we would implement was written by and for the people of Iceland in 2011 in response to the financial meltdown. It would include the separation of powers to prevent another economic collapse, while also reforming the way MPs are elected and judges are appointed. It is completely unacceptable that despite a referendum in 2012 that saw 67 percent of the electorate voting to put this new crowd-sourced constitution into law, it still hasn’t been.
It is difficult to say at this stage exactly what the complete ramifications of this scandal are, but it is obvious that our nation’s reputation will be severely damaged abroad, simply because we are the only Western European country with a sitting minister—let alone a prime minister—that has been directly implicated in this scandal.
If this was a comedy it would be funny but this is actually our head of state. This is not what Icelanders are like and this is not what Iceland is.