Chairman of the Independence Party (IP) and current majority leader Bjarni Benediktsson has entered into negotiations with the Progressive Party (PP) in an attempt to save the coalition. The PP has proposed the replacement of Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson with Progressive Party MP and Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannesson. Sigmundur will nonetheless remain in Parliament and continue to serve as the chairman of the Progressive Party.
At a press conference earlier today Bjarni expressed his desire for the continued cooperation of the Progressive and Independent Parties. He also thanked the president for preventing the resolution proposed this morning by the now former prime minister to dissolve parliament.
Regarding his own involvement with offshore holdings which were revealed in the Mossack Fonseca leak, he claimed to have no qualms about any investigation into the matter. All events thus related had occurred before he chaired the Independence Party and well before he became Minister of Finance. He also expressed a willingness to release his tax reports if necessary.
Despite these developments the coalition of minority leaders in Parliament has declared that they will continue to push for a motion of no confidence in the current administration, with or without Sigmundur Davíð as prime minister.
“Today we have watched a situation develop where the prime minister said at nine o’clock this morning that the coalition government was stable and definitely not hanging by a thread. At noon he was demanding a new election and the dissolution of parliament. At three he’s handing his position off to his second in command. This is an incredible series of events and does nothing to increase trust in the administration’s ability to handle the difficult job they’re tasked with,” Katrín Jakobsdóttir, chairman of the Left-Green Party, told Vísir.
Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, MP for the Pirate Party stated his opposition to the swap in an interview with RÚV, saying that he hadn’t seen any protestors with signs asking for Sigurður Ingi to take over as Prime Minister, and that this issue wasn’t solely about government officials stashing money abroad, but also about their negative reactions when confronted with that fact.
“This is also about how people reacted when confronted with this, responding aggressively and negatively that the issue was being criticized or questioned at all. I don’t think the nation is willing to entertain that kind of response to justified questioning and critique anymore. For those individuals to react with self-pity and name-calling.”
Meanwhile, protests continue at Austurvöllur. Yesterday the largest demonstration in the history of the republic took place in front of the Parliament House where 22,000 people, or close to one-tenth of eligible voters, demanded the resignation of the administration and new elections.