Demons & Dialog

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Iceland: Banks Collapsed, Government Collapsing, Riots Growing

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Four months after the collapse of Iceland’s entire financial system, no one has accepted any responsibility. Their currency has lost more than half its value, rampant inflation has already eaten up most people’s savings, property values have dropped by more than a third and unemployment is reaching levels never seen before in the history of their Republic.

The fault is clearly shared between the business elite and the government, which failed to regulate the newly privatized financial sector, allowing a few incompetent business tycoons to gamble with the nation’s fortune. And yet neither the government nor the bankers (who, by the way, seem to have disappeared into the cold, thin air) see anything wrong with their own behavior.

The governor of the central bank blames the risk-seeking bankers, the bankers blame the government and the prime minister attributes the whole crisis to the international credit crunch. This lack of any sense of responsibility has angered the Icelandic public to the extent that they have turned to the streets in greater numbers than ever before.

Initially the government tried to dismiss the protesters as frustrated wannabe politicians and disillusioned youngsters who did not understand the complexity of the situation. Icelanders are normally a quite calm and rational people. But when the country’s grandmothers put down their knitting gear, strapped their boots on and took to the streets shouting for new elections, it became quite evident the disgust was almost universal.

Yesterday Iceland’s parliament resumed for the first time after Christmas. Without much organization or central planning, the public surrounded the parliament building and demanded early elections. Ignoring them, the ministers and parliamentarians tried to sit out the protest, hiding inside the old building in downtown Reykjavik. This time it didn’t work. The protests grew and ordinary people kept warm by burning torches in front of the building. They were going nowhere. Well into the night parliament remained under siege, and the vigil resumed this morning.

Iceland was the first country whose banks failed due to the global economic Chernobyl. The government is reportedly hanging by a thin thread and could fall at any moment.

source: Guardian UK


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Written by Michael Cooper

January 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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