Helvítis Fokking Fokk! Iceland reacts to the Panama Papers.

If you haven't heard of the Panama Papers, you need to. Leaked from a Panamanian law firm, it's one of the largest leaks of all time, revealing the way some of the world's most controversial leaders hide their assets. Allies of Vladimir Putin. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. King Salman of Saudi Arabia. Ayad Allawi of Iraq. Top Chinese officials. The son of the Malaysian prime minister. Children of Pakistan's PM Nawaz-Sharif. And....

... the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð?

Mótmæli - Þórður S. Júlíusson.jpg
(Credit: Þórður S. Júlíusson)

(Pronunciation: "SIH-mun-dur DAHV-eeth")

Before we go any further, I should correct a common misconception. You know those stories about Iceland being some sort of anticapitalist paradise that defaulted on its loans, said no to the IMF, nationalized its banks, preserved its welfare system, got a new constitution, put all the crooks in jail, and lived happily ever after? Yeah, it's all BS. More to the point our current government is the conservatives. That's right, the same parties that got us into our mess in 2008 got reelected a couple years ago. Hooray to short-term memories!

It's already been known that they've been robbing us blind. They fought a long battle with the EU over getting Iceland more of the mackerel quota... only to just give it to their friends, the wealthy fishing barons. They got Landsbankinn to sell off the company Borgun in a backroom no-bid deal for a tiny fraction of its value to... wait for it... friends and family of top government officials. They've taken silencing of the media under threats of lawsuits and backroom buyouts of media companies (followed by sacking of all critical journalists) to new levels. They smuggled machine guns into the country and lied about them being a gift when exposed. The sort of stuff they've been pulling could comprise a book. And their popularity has gone off a cliff. At the last poll, the prime minister's party was the choice of only 12% of the electorate.

And now this. Seriously, watch his "kid caught with his hand in a cookie jar" reaction when he discovered that he had been caught:

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/iceland-pm-calls-snap-election-offshore-revelations

He tried to stop the publication of the interview. He failed.

It's hard to take your eyes away. What happened? The Reykjavík Grapevine goes into detail, but the short of it is that before the crash, he and his wealthy wife used a secret offshore company ("Wintris") to purchase sizeable stakes in the three large Icelandic banks - banks that later became famous worldwide when they so spectacularly collapsed. This turned them into creditors squabbling over the assets of the banks against many other competing interests. Transparency laws when he was elected (on the grounds of supposedly fighting against the evil vulture creditors ) required him to disclose any stake in a shareholding company over 25% (he owned 50% and his wife the other 50%)... he did nothing for three months. Then, rather than disclose it, he sold his stake to his wife for $1 USD - which of course did not remove his conflict of interest either way. Then, as prime minister, he promoted and passed legislation that redirected $2B euros that would have gone to Iceland to instead go to the creditors. Aka, his wife and others ("others" also including other members of the governing coalition)

Yeah, ouch.

It was announced on Facebook that there was going to be a protest. The prime minister was dismissive. "It's not like everyone is going to show up."

Well....

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("Everyone showed up! So quit now!" Credit: Benedict Jóhannesson)

Seriously - for a country the size of Iceland, this protest was massive. More than the police have ever seen.. Not even during the 2008 crisis. Everyone was blown away. Counters counted 22547 people, and weren't able to get to a large portion of the crowd (a typical "big" protest here is a few thousand). 75 international news stations were covering it. There were side protests in towns out far from the capital like Akureyri. There was even one in Oslo.

Here in Reykjavík we were crammed together. Those who made it into Austurvöllur - the large central square - were the lucky ones; the overflow stretched into all of the surrounding streets:

But let's back up for a second. Because people didn't just materialize there. First off, you had to get there.

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("HONK -> RESIGNATION NOW / REVOLUTION 5 PM"; Credit: K100)

We're not accustomed to traffic here. Well, we get what we call "traffic" but it's normally kind of a humorous impersonation of real traffic. But today it was real:

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("Credit: Kristján Har")

Those who could find a place to park still usually had to go a good way on foot:

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(Credit: Þráinn Hauksson)

And so the crowds built.

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(Credit: annastashiastuff@instagram)

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("CORRUPT INCOMPETENT GOVERNMENT" Credit: Erna Rósa)

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("BYE, $IMMI!" Credit: Fettibretta@instagram)

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("BYE $SIMMI" Credit: Guðný Rut P)

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("OKAY BYE" Credit: Ingibjörg Dögg)

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(Formal: "GOODBYE")

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("WHAT WIFE?" - Hörður Sveinsson)

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(Credit: Hauxon@instagram)

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(Credit: Hákonjjjjjh@instagram)

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("Remove from me political ends/consequences/funerals" on the statue of Jón Sigurðsson (Iceland's equivalent of George Washington) Also written on the statue: "Simmi, you're fired", with one letter added making it "Simmi, you're the dragon.". Credit: Agnar Kristján)

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("Away with this SCUM" / "PUTIN, FIFA, SIMMI" / "INCOMPETENT GOVERNMENT". Credit: Explore Iceland)

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("SOCIOPATHIC DAVÍÐ" (play on words between "Sigmundur" and "Siðblindur") - Credit: Ása Ólafsdóttir)

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("RESTORE MORALITY TO ICELAND". Credit: Íris Dögg Einarsdóttir)

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(Skyr coats the windows of the Parliament building. Credit: Ásta Helgadóttir)

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(The outside of the parliament building, pelted in eggs, skyr, etc. Credit: Banani Tómatur@instagram)

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(Credit: Vísir / Ernir)

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("SIGN!" Credit: birgirol@instagram)

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("TRANSPARENCY" Credit: Fanney Birna)

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("RESIGNATION IMMEDIATELY" Credit: Kata Maríudóttir)

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("GET OUT SIGMUNDUR" / "Bjarni and Simmi, it's gone on long enough!" / "BYE SIMMI!" / "FUCK OFF - GO TO TORTOLA" Credit: Himar Kári Hallbjörnsson / RÚV)

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("Tortola-Government GET OUT" Credt: hrefre@instagram)

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("ENOUGH.". Credit: Banani Tómatur@instagram)

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(jónzyg@instagram)

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("NOT OUR GOVERNMENT" Credit: fitbody365@instagram)

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(Credit: Haraldur Dean Nelson)

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(Credit: Katrín Lilja)

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(Credit: Katrín Lilja)

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("ELECTIONS NOW!" Credit: Katrín Lilja)

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(Credit: Kiddi Kubein)

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(Credit: Kristín Anna Ólofsdóttir)

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(Credit: Lara Högg)

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(Credit: Óðinn)

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(Credit: Regnbogafoli@instagram)

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("FUCK YOU :)" Credit: Reykajvík Grapevine)

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(Current coalition RIP / "COUNTRY FOR SALE, MY COUNTRY" / "BYE SIMMI" / "ENOUGH." / "WE CAN'T BE BOTHERED WITH YOU" / "BLATTER PUTIN SIGMUNDUR" Credit: Reykjavík Grapevine)

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(Credit: RÚV / Hilmar Kári Hallbjörnsson)

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(Credit: Semaerla@instagram)

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(Credit: shousey12@instagram)

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("Credit: Sigrún Skafta")

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(Credit: Silja Björk)

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(Credit: Sólrún Ingva)

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(Credit: Swetans@instagram)

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(Credit: Stefanía Skaftadóttir)

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("YOU'RE FIRED." Credit: Steinunn Fríðriksdóttir)

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(Credit: Sveinn Svavarsson)

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("STILL, THE SAME DAMN FUCKING FUCK." Credit: tellthechiroptera@instagram)

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(Credit: tellthechiroptera@instagram)

Mótmæli - thelmaeinarsdesign.jpg
("idiot! idiot! IDIOT! okay? idiot! IDIOT!" Credit: Thelma Einars Design)

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(Credit: thorunnthorh@instagram)

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(Credit: Vísir)

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("$IMMI: YOU ARE NOT ONE OF US" Credit: Vísir)

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(Credit: Vísir)

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(Credit: Þóra Sif)

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(Credit: Þrúður Óskarsdóttir)

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(Credit: Sólveig María)

More videos here, here, here and here.

So, how do you think Simmi is feeling right now? Maybe like this?

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("How do you do 'Erase History'?" Credit: Hugleikur Dagsson)

A vote of no confidence will be occurring soon, which would mean the collapse of the government, and likely lead to a Pirate government according to polls. But we can't get our hopes up too much. While the coalition isn't completely rushing to Simmi's aide, they're not running away from the sinking ship yet either. A coalition partner parliamentarian actually tried to claim that the protesters aren't actually protesting the prime minster, that people are just mad in general that money gets stored in "those kinds of islands". As for our prime minister, he's constantly defending himself, insists he's not going to resign, and is actively avoiding the press. When a Norwegian journalist showed up at his house to ask for an interview, he called the Special Forces. (Yes, you read that right... not the police, but the organization responsible for stopping terrorist attacks and the like)

Basically, so far Simmi's reaction has been his usual to people being angry with him:

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(Credit: Nanna Árnadóttir)

Not if we have anything to say about it. People are not taking this lying down. And the government is playing with fire if they want to pretend that nothing happened.

-----------------

Mótmæli - Kristján Hrannar.jpg
(Credit: Kristján Har. Yellow: "Bad Weather". Red: "Lying Government". Orange: "Poor selection in grocery stores." Yellow-orange: Niflheim; Yellow-red: Mordor; Red-orange: 1984; Center: Iceland)

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56 users have voted.

Comments

Bollox Ref's picture

Those are large crowds for such a population.

Used to travel to the UK via Icelandair. I'm just glad the flight staff have excellent English. Icelandic makes Dutch seem comprehensible.

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19 users have voted.

Gëzuar!!

... for converting from Icelandic figures to US figures is to multiply by 1000. The US has about 1000x the population, 1000x the economy, etc. Now, that's not entirely fair - it takes ~15 hours to drive a loop around our country instead of a week, for example, so it's easier to get from one side to the other. But still.... yeah, this protest was epic.

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20 users have voted.

This is great to see. Keep us updated!

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13 users have voted.
Bollox Ref's picture

Is that self explanatory?

Okay, I see it is.

Nice Richard III sign.

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12 users have voted.

Gëzuar!!

It means exactly what it sounds like. Wink "Helvítis fokking fokk!" literally means "Damn fucking fuck!"; it was an iconic sign from the 2008 protest period that really summed up peoples' frustrations. Needless to say, it's been making a comeback.

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18 users have voted.

You just never know when you'll need a good curse.

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2 users have voted.

Enjoy every sandwich. (ripwz)

Pat K California's picture

... but what is "skyr" ? Looks nasty!

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10 users have voted.

"Long term: first the rich get mean, then the poor get mean, and the rest is history." My brother Rob.

Bollox Ref's picture

Having flown Icelandair.

It makes yogurt seem like Macdonalds.

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9 users have voted.

Gëzuar!!

It's sort of a really thick, protein-rich yogurt - although technically, given how it's made, it's a cheese.

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9 users have voted.

Awesome diary. Thanks for the context.

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7 users have voted.
Lenzabi's picture

Anger other nations populations as well.

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9 users have voted.

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Martha Pearce-Smith's picture

If we only could get crowds like this to protest in DC....

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10 users have voted.

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PastorAgnostic's picture

But the growth of those protests scared Wall and other powers that be, so they were attacked, arrested, pepper sprayed, and abused.

The same anger that drives some into the Trump Tent also causes growing support for Bernie. And, is slowly dissolving The Inevitable One's campaign.

The dissent that is bubbling within her campaign exists because they see just how her campaign is floundering. And they don't know what to do about it. Bill doesn't help. Hillary won't listen to anyone but herself and to her very few top aides (Huma, Sydney, a couple of more) I heard a rumor (and cannot confirm it) that Hillary had allowed a video crew to film the inner workings of her campaign, so she could brag about how efficient and smart they were after her coronation. That has been cancelled or put on hold because the screams and verbal wars simply gave the wrong optics.

Given the popularity of Occupy, one wonders just how dense Hillary is to have ignored the unhappy majority that has substantive bones to pick about the economy and financial fraud that is so commonplace today. Internationally, in fact, given the Panama Papers.

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4 users have voted.

Oh, wouldn't it be LUVERLY?

I'd LOVE to see a crowd of about 650,000 or so people surround the Capitol chanting, for Ryan and McConnell to lead a parade of Republicans out of their respective holes in the big round cheese and leave town for good.

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1 user has voted.

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Muerte al fascismo. Muerte a la tiranía. colapso total de los que promueven tampoco. A la pared con el unico porciento%

mileser's picture

That what Iceland did to the previous government and the bankers, that it would be obvious the people will NOT put up with this crap. I would think this guy would try to flee the country.

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5 users have voted.

-9.75, -8.21

Olivia LaRosa's picture

It's a club, and you're not in it.

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14 users have voted.

BERNIE SANDERS - NOT FOR SALE
I have been waiting for this election my whole life, it turns out!

Please see my website www.olivialarosa.com for sassy political and social commentary
DKOS ID debocracy aka OliviaLaRosa

KenInCO's picture

I hope two things for Iceland's next volcanic eruption. One, it doesn't disrupt life up there too much. Two, that you write essays about it here since TOP is dead to me. I'm a volcano nerd. I loved your Holuhraun diaries so much!

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20 users have voted.
congenitalefty's picture

Eggs!

Bananas!

National flags!

That's the way you do it.

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8 users have voted.

I had to go there.

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2 users have voted.

You keep using that word...

like your current government all attended the Scott Walker School of Maladministration

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6 users have voted.

Sigh

Resignation now, revolution at 5... a winning slogan! I must say, Iceland sounds a bit like Rhode Island in all this. I lived there, and it was a place small enough the mayor would show up at a birthday party, but the corruption was legendary. I just hope this uprising starts a world-wide tidal wave to clean house.

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8 users have voted.
DerAmi's picture

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3 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

Thank you so much for the essay. Keep us updated. Smile

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3 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

UPDATE:

The Prime Minister is meeting with the president right now. It’s possible that he’s being kicked out, although it’s too early to say. I’ll keep you updated as I hear any news!

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9 users have voted.

Update:

The prime minister just stormed out of a meeting with the president looking upset, jumped in a car without talking to anyone, and left. The president took a press conference. Here's what the result was:

http://ruv.is/frett/fellst-ekki-a-beidni-sigmundar-um-thingrof

"Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, prime minister, requested at a meeting with the president at noon today to dissolve parliament. The president said that he cannot take this request from the prime minister before he'd discussed it with the other coalition partner. ... Ólafur (the president) said that he plans to have a meeting with the president of the Independence Party after several hours. Afterwards there will be a meeting with the president of the Alþing (parliament)..."

Basically, no news yet, still developing.

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11 users have voted.

I loved all of your eruption diaries and feel like I've visited Iceland vicariously. What great crowds--I hope the people can take their government back. I look forward to more news! Thank you!

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4 users have voted.

Wow....what a crowd. The corruption is unbelievable there, here, and everywhere.

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6 users have voted.

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4 users have voted.

You keep using that word...

Update:

http://ruv.is/frett/julius-vifill-segir-af-ser

A Reykjavík city councilman in the Independence (conservative) party who's served there for 14 years has resigned over his role in the scandal. Still no word on what's going to happen with the national government, though.

http://ruv.is/frett/forsetinn-stigur-inn-a-politiskan-vettvang

An expert says it's a very unusual and very political move on behalf of the president to refuse the prime minster's request to dissolve parliament. We'll have to see what comes out of this Independence (conservative) party meeting - the conservative party chair is heading back to Bessastaðir (the president's residence) as soon as the meeting is done, and reports are coming in that the meeting appears to be concluded.

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8 users have voted.

... be planning to park in parliament and refuse to leave?

In U S Kindergartenspeak, it would be "We double damn dare you to come in here and use force to try to move us out. We'll sic the army on you, you nasty things...

'

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1 user has voted.

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Muerte al fascismo. Muerte a la tiranía. colapso total de los que promueven tampoco. A la pared con el unico porciento%

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0 users have voted.

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Muerte al fascismo. Muerte a la tiranía. colapso total de los que promueven tampoco. A la pared con el unico porciento%

like that here in the USA.
Apathy has infected America and therefore, the 1% carry on with business as usual.
Who will be revealed from the USA in the Panama Papers? You can bet that those who know they will be revealed are talking with their lawyers and preparing a BS response right now.
Since the media is in bed with the richy rich, there will be another bet you can take. They will report their masters are being attacked and it is all so unfair. Move along, nothing too see or hear.

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6 users have voted.

!!!!!!BIG UPDATE!!!!!!

http://www.visir.is/sigmundur-david-haettur/article/2016160409294

"Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has decided to resign as prime minister.

The news will be updated"

That's all that the article says.
My reaction: [i]"WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!"[/i] I literally cheered out loud at work! BUT! There's a question, [i]can[/i] he actually quit without party consent, or will they consent it? Will the coalition government actually fall? Stay tuned!

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14 users have voted.
Martha Pearce-Smith's picture

away... he could be ready to flee the country to avoid prosecution.

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3 users have voted.

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Uhhh, don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Quick elections...Quick resignations.

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2 users have voted.

Updated version:

http://www.visir.is/sigmundur-david-haettur/article/2016160409294

"Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has decided to resign as prime minister. This was announced by Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, vice president of the Progress Party, who announced this in a live broadcast on RÚV just now.

According to Sigurðar Inga, Sigmundur Davíð will however continue as president of the Progress Party but step to the side as prime minister. He said that there is a full determination within the party to continue in the governing coalition with the Independence Party.

Sigurður Ingi said also that he shuold have discussed discussed it with Bjarni Benediktsson (Independence Party), the financial minister, about that they have full interest in continuing the coalition continue.

Bjarni is now meeting with the president at Bessastaðir and according to this it may be assumed that he will recommend to the president that the coalition of these parties in the government will continue. The news will be updated."

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11 users have voted.

I didn't even know that such an arrangement would be legal. But there goes the last shred of credibility that King Ólafur (Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, president) ever had. The coalition would be broken if not for him defending the conservative coalition.

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5 users have voted.

To sum it all upp: Sigmundur Davíð plans to leave...

... but not really leave, just work behind the curtain, while the office of the prime minister will be taken over by his older, poorly shaven clone from the same party:

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6 users have voted.

Interview with an Independence (conservative party) member (the coalition partner of PM Sigmundur Davíð's Progress Party):

Brynjar Níelsson, MP of the Independence Party, desires that the party continue on in the coalition with the Progress Party, whether Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson continues as prime minister or not. Brynjar said this before he walked into an Independence Party meeting which began for the third time today.

Brynjar, what did you feel about the conclusion that the president reached?

„It depends on whether you're speaking with a lawyer or a politician. As a lawyer I'm not fond of this situation because of the governance of the country but I think it was nonetheless reasonable because of how the situation was."

What's the situation?

„Now we're discussing it and will hopefully come to some kind of conclusion. I myself think that it's important that these parties continue.“

How can that happen?

„We now need to figure that out. It's not totally easy under the circumstances."

After these events this morning...

„Yes, that just complicates the issue“

Cam everyone who's in the government now as it stands today just continue forward in it?

„I'm not going to say but I think that there's a significant desire to do that if it's possible.“

Therefore that the prime minsiter can continue in the government?

„I'm not saying that it has to be like that. But I think it's important that these parties continue to work together, whether Sigmundur will continue or not."

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7 users have voted.

Does a Vote of No Confidence require a simple majority of 50%+1 or does it require a supermajority of 3/5 or 2/3? Is there anything like American style voter suppression that your Prime Minister can use to hold on to his position?

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4 users have voted.

I really don't know the details of the process, to be honest. As for voter suppression, we usually get 85-90% turnout in elections no matter what. But votes in rural areas count for more. Obviously they've resisted changing that.

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4 users have voted.

Nothing will change unless you folks, the 99%, force the change. In your shoes, I'd ask the home guard and the police to join me.

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3 users have voted.

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Muerte al fascismo. Muerte a la tiranía. colapso total de los que promueven tampoco. A la pared con el unico porciento%

The translation of this guys sign:

...is wrong. It reads "I provide political funeral services." (as in political career death). Thought I'd mention it because I met this guy yesterday and I think his way of protesting is very original and pretty funny as well.

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4 users have voted.
Hawkfish's picture

The smart ones used a different launderer. We need to be more careful of them.

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0 users have voted.

It's like two plus two equals fish! -- The Big Short