Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Iceland: “Panama papers’ cause government collapse – Les Echos

The publication of confidential documents from Panama Tuesday made a first political victim, Iceland. Prime Minister Davíð Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, who was quoted in the documents for opening a company in a tax haven (BVI) with his wife, an heiress, was forced to resign in 48 hours. The head of government was beautiful scream his innocence, arguing that he had sold his shares to his wife for $ 1 in 2009 before entering politics, nothing worked. After the revelations in the international press on this huge network of offshore accounts, involving many politicians of the country, the Prime Minister had initially refused to resign. But after a protest having collected 6% of Icelanders Monday and filing a censure motion by the opposition, the pressure is raised a notch. Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson Davíð then asked the Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grímsson, the dissolution of Parliament. After the refusal of the latter, the Prime Minister chose to throw in the towel. In the afternoon, he informed his caucus that he would resign. While working for his successor is a member of the current coalition.

Several ministers splashed

Team Past may be severely punished by the voters. For the Independence Party, the main political force until the financial crisis that shook the island from 2008 and extra power in the government, is also tainted by the scandal. Its leader Bjarni Benediktsson, Minister of Finance, is also quoted in the “Panama papers”, as the Minister of the Interior, Olöf Nordal, and current and former councilors of the capital belonging to the same formation …

for many Icelanders, the mention of those responsible in these confidential documents is the final straw. 600 North Atlantic island nationals are listed there, according to local media. “ When I see the Prime Minister of our country make headlines around the world alongside all these scoundrels … ” cowardly Thorvaldur Gudlaugsson, a graphic designer, who demonstrated on Monday in Reykjavik.

the scandal of “Panama papers” “ disrupts the process of moral and political reconciliation that was being ” in recent years, said political analyst Birgir Gudmundsson, in University of Akureyri in the north of the island. The prime minister, he remained on the same line of defense from the beginning of the case. “ My wife has always paid his taxes. Since I have political responsibilities, she avoided any risk of conflict of interest by not investing in companies operating in Iceland , “he explained on Monday Reuters.

such explanations, notes Birgir Gudmundsson, “ are deemed inadmissible by the public .” Which wants a renewal of the political class. Hence the very high level of popularity (over 35% in favor) of the Pirate Party, an alternative training elsewhere in Europe often perceived as not credible and focused only on issues related to the Internet.

Prime Minister, he hopes that voters will thank him for improving the economic situation. Iceland has a good shot of the financial storm of 2008, she was the first victim in the wake of the bankruptcy of US investment bank Lehman Brothers. The Icelandic krona, which had fallen by almost 50%, regained some balance. The emergency loan (2.1 billion) voted by the IMF – the first program of assistance to a Western country since 1976 – has been repaid. And if capital controls has not been lifted, which particularly hampers business, the unemployment rate has fallen below 5% of the labor force ..

Antoine Jacob
Correspondent in Northern Europe


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