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Iceland: Protestors Call for Immediate Vote, Ask Govt to Step Down

The Iceland government has promised elections by autumn but protesters want elections to be held now.

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Icelanders, not satisfied with the exit of the prime minister and a promise to hold elections this autumn, took to the streets again on Thursday to demand that the government quit over the Panama Papers leaks.

About 2,000 people showed up at parliament for another day of demonstrations, banging pots and pans and calling for immediate elections.

Iceland fell into a political crisis after documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm (dubbed as Panama Papers), Mossack Fonseca, linked the now ousted Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson to an offshore company that held millions of dollars in debt from failed Icelandic banks. He stepped down on Tuesday.

The centre-right coalition tried to appease Icelanders by naming Fisheries Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson as prime minister and calling for early elections in the autumn.

But many Icelanders, who have a deep distrust in their government following a 2008 banking crisis which wrecked the economy, are saying it is not enough that only Gunnlaugsson steps aside.

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Icelanders Want Immediate Elections

The Iceland government has promised elections by autumn but protesters want elections to be held now.
Iceland’s former Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, during a parliamentary session in Reykjavik on Monday, 4 April 2016. (Photo: AP)

Saga Stephensen, a 33-year-old multicultural adviser who showed up at Thursday’s protest, said others in the government should resign too.

They act like nothing happened and don’t bear responsibility and don’t apologise. I am fed up with their arrogance.
Saga Stephensen, Protester

Johann Bjornsson, a 50-year-old teacher, called for elections as soon as possible.

To appoint Sigurur Ingi as Prime Minister is no solution.
Johann Bjornsson, Protester
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Opposition Leads in Opinion Polls

The Iceland government has promised elections by autumn but protesters want elections to be held now.
Demonstration against Iceland’s prime minister after Panama paper leaks, in Reykjavik on Monday 4 April 2016. (Photo: AP)

Earlier on Thursday, the head of Iceland’s anti-establishment Pirate Party filed a vote of a no-confidence motion in parliament. The motion is seen however as largely symbolic since the coalition of the Progressive and Independence parties has a solid majority in the 63-seat parliament with 38 seats.

How are we going to reclaim our reputation if things just go back to normal? We are the laughing stock in the international community because of the former PM. It’s too little and too late.
Birgitta Jonsdottir, Head of Pirate Party

The opinion polls indicate that the Pirate Party would win an election if it was to be held today. A poll by Icelandic media outlet Visir showed 43 percent of those polled would cast ballots for the Pirate Party if elections were held now, a stunning victory for a group set up by opponents of copyright enforcement rules.

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