Iceland, a Country That Wants to Punish the Bankers Responsible for the Crisis

EUROPE, 4 Apr 2011

Pressenza – TRANSCEND Media Service

Since 2008 the vast majority of the Western population dream about saying “no” to the banks, but no one has dared to do so. No one except the Icelanders, who have carried out a peaceful revolution that has managed not only to overthrow a government and draft a new constitution, but also seeks to jail those responsible for the country’s economic debacle.

Last week 9 people were arrested in London and Reykjavik for their possible responsibility for Iceland’s financial collapse in 2008, a deep crisis which developed into an unprecedented public reaction that is changing the country’s direction.

It has been a revolution without weapons in Iceland, the country that hosts the world’s oldest democracy (since 930), and whose citizens have managed to effect change by going on demonstrations and banging pots and pans. Why have the rest of the Western countries not even heard about it?

Pressure from Icelandic citizens’ has managed not only to bring down a government, but also begin the drafting of a new constitution (in process) and is seeking to put in jail those bankers responsible for the financial crisis in the country. As the saying goes, if you ask for things politely it is much easier to get them.

This quiet revolutionary process has its origins in 2008 when the Icelandic government decided to nationalise the three largest banks, Landsbanki, Kaupthing and Glitnir, whose clients were mainly British, and North and South American.

After the State took over, the official currency (krona) plummeted and the stock market suspended its activity after a 76% collapse. Iceland was becoming bankrupt and to save the situation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) injected U.S. $ 2,100 million and the Nordic countries helped with another 2,500 million.

Great little victories of ordinary people

While banks and local and foreign authorities were desperately seeking economic solutions, the Icelandic people took to the streets and their persistent daily demonstrations outside parliament in Reykjavik prompted the resignation of the conservative Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde and his entire government.

Citizens demanded, in addition, to convene early elections, and they succeeded. In April a coalition government was elected, formed by the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement, headed by a new Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.

Throughout 2009 the Icelandic economy continued to be in a precarious situation (at the end of the year the GDP had dropped by 7%) but, despite this, the Parliament proposed to repay the debt to Britain and the Netherlands with a payment of 3,500 million Euros, a sum to be paid every month by Icelandic families for 15 years at 5.5% interest.

The move sparked anger again in the Icelanders, who returned to the streets demanding that, at least, that decision was put to a referendum. Another big small victory for the street protests: in March 2010 that vote was held and an overwhelming 93% of the population refused to repay the debt, at least with those conditions.

This forced the creditors to rethink the deal and improve it, offering 3% interest and payment over 37 years. Not even that was enough. The current president, on seeing that Parliament approved the agreement by a narrow margin, decided last month not to approve it and to call on the Icelandic people to vote in a referendum so that they would have the last word.

The bankers are fleeing in fear

Returning to the tense situation in 2010, while the Icelanders were refusing to pay a debt incurred by financial sharks without consultation, the coalition government had launched an investigation to determine legal responsibilities for the fatal economic crisis and had already arrested several bankers and top executives closely linked to high risk operations.

Interpol, meanwhile, had issued an international arrest warrant against Sigurdur Einarsson, former president of one of the banks. This situation led scared bankers and executives to leave the country en masse.

In this context of crisis, an assembly was elected to draft a new constitution that would reflect the lessons learned and replace the current one, inspired by the Danish constitution.

To do this, instead of calling experts and politicians, Iceland decided to appeal directly to the people, after all they have sovereign power over the law. More than 500 Icelanders presented themselves as candidates to participate in this exercise in direct democracy and write a new constitution. 25 of them, without party affiliations, including lawyers, students, journalists, farmers and trade union representatives were elected.

Among other developments, this constitution will call for the protection, like no other, of freedom of information and expression in the so-called Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, in a bill that aims to make the country a safe haven for investigative journalism and freedom of information, where sources, journalists and Internet providers that host news reporting are protected.

The people, for once, will decide the future of the country while bankers and politicians witness the transformation of a nation from the sidelines.


Pressenza Editorial Team in Chile

translation: Silvia Swinden

Go to Original –

Tags: ,

Share this article:

DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

5 Responses to “Iceland, a Country That Wants to Punish the Bankers Responsible for the Crisis”

  1. […] TRANSCEND Media Service. Traduzione di Miky Lanza per il Centro Studi Sereno Regis Titolo originale: Iceland, a Country That Wants to Punish the Bankers Responsible for the Crisis… […]

  2. […] Titolo originale: Iceland, a Country That Wants to Punish the Bankers Responsible for the Crisis TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE Islanda un paese che vuole punire i banchieri responsabili della crisi | STAMPA LIBERA […]

  3. […] La pressione dei cittadini islandesi è riuscita non solo a far cadere un governo, ma anche a iniziare la stesura di una nuova costituzione (in corso), e sta cercando di incarcerare i banchieri responsabili della crisi finanziaria del paese. Come dice il proverbio, chiedendo le cose con garbo, è molto più facile ottenerle.Questo tranquillo processo rivoluzionario ha le sue origini nel 2008 quando il governo islandese decise di nazionalizzare le tre maggiori banche, Landsbanki, Kaupthing e Glitnir, i cui clienti erano principalmente britannici, e nord- e sud-americani.Dopo la presa in carico da parte statale, la moneta ufficiale (krona) precipitò e la borsa valori sospese l’ attività dopo un crollo del 76%. L’Islanda stava andando in bancarotta e per salvare la situazione, il Fondo Monetario Internazionale iniettò 2.100 milioni di dollari USA e i paesi Nordici contribuirono con altri 2.500 milioni.Grandi piccole vittorie di gente comune Mentre le banche e le autorità locali ed estere stavano disperatamente cercando soluzioni economiche, gli islandesi si sono riversati in strada e le loro persistenti dimostrazioni quotidiane davanti al parlamento a Reykjavik hanno provocato le dimissioni del primo ministro conservatore Geir H. Haarde e del suo intero gabinetto.I cittadini esigevano inoltre di convocare elezioni anticipate, e ci sono riusciti: in aprile è stato eletto un governo di coalizione formato dall’Alleanza Social-democratica e dal Movimento Verde di Sinistra, capeggiato dalla nuova prima ministra Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.Per tutto il 2009 l’economia islandese continuò a essere in situazione precaria (alla fine dell’anno il PIL era calato del 7%) ma ciononostante il parlamento propose di rifondere il debito alla Gran Bretagna e ai Paesi Bassi con un esborso di 3.500 milioni di euro, somma da pagarsi ogni mese da parte delle famiglie islandesi per 15 anni all’interesse del 5.5%.La decisione riaccese la rabbia negli islandesi, che tornarono in strada esigendo che, almeno, tale scelta fosse sottoposta a referendum. Altra piccola vittoria per i dimostranti: nel marzo 2010 si tenne appunto tale consultazione elettorale e uno schiacciante 93% della popolazione rifiutò di rifondere il debito, almeno a quelle condizioni.Ciò costrinse i creditori a ripensare l’operazione migliorandola con l’offerta di un tasso del 3% protratto per 37 anni. Ma anche questo non bastava. L’attuale presidente, al vedere il parlamento approvare l’accordo con un margine esiguo, ha deciso il mese scorso di non ratificarlo e di chiamare il popolo islandese alle urne per un referendum in cui avrà l’ultima parola.I banchieri scappano per la paura Tornando alla situazione tesa del 2010, quando gli islandesi si rifiutavano di pagare un debito contratto da squali finanziari senza consultazione, il governo di coalizione aveva promosso un’indagine per stabilire le responsabilità legali della fatale crisi economica arrestando già parecchi banchieri e alti dirigenti strettamente collegati alle operazioni arrischiate.Fonte: L’Interpol frattanto aveva emesso mandato di cattura internazionale contro Sigurdur Einarsson, ex-presidente di una delle banche coinvolte. Questa situazione ha spaventato banchieri e dirigenti inducendoli a lasciare il paese in massa.In questo contesto di crisi, si è eletta un’assemblea per redigere una nuova costituzione che rifletta le lezioni apprese nel frattempo sostituendo quella attuale, ispirata alla costituzione danese.Per far ciò, anziché chiamare esperti e politici, gli islandesi hanno deciso di rivolgersi direttamente alla gente, che dopo tutto detiene il potere sovrano sulla legge. Più di 500 islandesi si sono presentati come candidati a partecipare a tale esercizio di democrazia diretta e a scrivere una nuova costituzione. Ne sono stati eletti 25, senza affiliazioni partitiche, compresi avvocati, studenti, giornalisti, agricoltori e sindacalisti.Fra l’altro, questa costituzione richiederà come nessun’altra la protezione della libertà d’informazione e d’ espressione nella cosiddetta Iniziativa per i Media Moderni Islandesi, in un progetto di legge che mira a rendere il paese un porto sicuro per il giornalismo d’indagine e per la libertà d’informazione, dove si proteggano fonti, giornalisti e provider d’Internet che ospitino reportage di notizie. La gente, per una volta, deciderà il futuro del paese mentre banchieri e politici assistono alla trasformazione di una nazione dai margini.Fonte: http://www.elconfidencial.comTRANSCEND Media Service. Traduzione di Miky Lanza per il Centro Studi Sereno Regis Titolo originale: Iceland, a Country That Wants to Punish the Bankers Responsible for the Crisis… […]