Violence erupts in Iceland

As this deepest of recessions takes hold, an increasing number of countries are seeing outbreaks of civil unrest. First it was Greece. Later, we saw unrest in the Baltics in Riga and Vilnius. Now, Iceland is experiencing the same. These countries are amongst the hardest hit economies. Therefore, we should see these episodes as a harbinger of what is to come unless government can prevent this downturn from deepening.

Angry Icelandic protesters clashed with riot police as they called for a new government on Wednesday and the country’s prime minister said he had the support of his coalition partner.

Geir Haarde, Iceland prime minister, speaking after his limousine had been pelted with eggs and cans by demonstrators, said the government was ”fully functional”…..

Anti-government and central bank protests are now regular fixtures in the once-tranquil capital after sharp currency falls and the collapse of the financial system in October caused by billions of dollars of foreign debt being incurred by banks.

Television footage from channel RUV showed protesters banging on Mr Haarde’s black limousine and then pelting it with eggs outside the government building.

The vehicle managed to drive away after riot police arrived.


The protest also left the government building splattered with eggs and paint. The demonstrators then moved off to parliament and by evening about 3,000 protesters had gathered to face riot police surrounding the Althing, hurling fire crackers at the building and chanting ”disqualified government”.

One demonstrator scaled the face of the parliament building, reaching a balcony from which he hung a sign reading ”Treason due to recklessness is still treason”.

The volcanic island’s economy is expected to suffer a huge contraction this year while unemployment, once close to zero, is set to soar.

”People feel that it is incredible that after such a policy disaster that we faced last year, there has been no resignation, no minister, no one has resigned or responded, or taken responsibility for what happened,” said Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a political scientist at the University of Iceland.

Mr Kristinsson said there was a substantial likelihood the government would not survive the coming two weeks.

Icelandic protesters clash with police – FT

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