Feb. 2nd, 2009

jacktellslies: (bear girl)
Recent Events in Icelandic Politics:
A Brief Summary by a Useless Dandy Who Doesn't Know Very Much About Politics At All

by Jack Grey

I was in Iceland very shortly after the collapse of the banks. The administration in power then was seen as incompetent, having failed to prevent the economic crash and incorrectly and inadequately responding to it after the fact. There have been protests going on since that time, the vast majority of them non-violent. Usually protests there involve people banging pots and pans and making noise, demanding attention. But more recently the tone changed: protesters began throwing Skyr, the Icelandic yogurt; snowballs; and eggs at the main government building. A few threw rocks, and the police responded with pepper spray and tear gas. The heads of government were secreted away through hidden underground tunnels. Talks occurred between the police and the people of Iceland, and the vast majority of the people agreed that violence was unacceptable. When at a subsequent rally rocks were thrown again, non-violent protesters formed a human wall, protecting the police and the agitators from one another. It's a beautiful image. When Obama was inaugurated, the Icelandic response was actually jealousy, and the situation there intensified. Most of the news I've been getting hasn't included this fact, but my host claims that when the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister both stepped down, they did not officially do so because of the protests. They resigned because they were both diagnosed with cancer. Icelanders seem to be treating this as deus ex machina. The new Icelandic Prime Minister is Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir. Most newspapers seem to be referring to her as Ms. Sigurdardóttir, which is incorrect. The Icelandic patronymic simply indicates that she is Sigurdar's daughter; her name is Jóhanna, and she ought to be called such in print. And Jóhanna is, among many other things, a former airline stewardess, a former labour union organiser, and a lesbian. She is, in fact, the first openly gay leader of a nation in the modern world.


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