Things appear to be getting hot in mid-winter Iceland, where protests have now started as what appears to be a global epidemic of riots, continues. The events started as thousands rallied out into the streets of Reykjavik on Tuesday to demand a referendum outside the Icelandic National Parliament.
The current government of Iceland, that came to power last May, is made up of the same two parties that were in power when the country was rammed by a financial crisis in 2008. A crisis that caused the entire banking system to collapse and sparked what many consider to be the biggest protests since the country regained its independence from Denmark in 1944, excluding perhaps, the riots of 1949 when the country joined NATO.
As a result of the 2008 series of events, the country reelected the parliament, reorganized the management of the Central Bank and started a formal investigation of the economic collapse. In the years since, some financiers and bankers have now been convicted in trial as the appointed prosecutor is still working on the cases.
What is causing the protests now, however, is the parliament’s consideration to cancel the negotiations to join the EU all together. The negotiations have been frozen as of last summer when the new government came to power.
As the Tuesday protests went on, so did the debate inside the parliament where the meeting went on till 11.40 pm local time and still no decision made. The local police force estimated the amount of protesters to be around 3000 people, while some sources say 4000, which is already 1% of the island nation’s total population of 300.000. The protests, that just started in Iceland, on top of the bulk of riots elsewhere, might give rise to a question as to whether this will continue to become a global epidemic.
In 2008, the country’s protests started as peacefully organized weekly events, held every Saturday with speakers and musicians. In late January of 2009, however, riots broke out in a word-of-mouth and social media organized gathering on a Tuesday night where clashes broke out between protesters and police forces.
Tear gas, clubs and bricks came into action in the 2009 riots, with several reported injuries, but no reported casualties. Following that were two nights where fires were lit around downtown, shortly after, the government announced the early elections that were to be held in the spring.
The events today, however, appear to possibly feed into the simmering political atmosphere of the European economic region, as witnessed recently where an opposition in the Ukraine seeking to tighten the relations with the EU clashed with the Pro-Russian Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, within the union, there seems to be a growing concern in the UK to leave the partnership and Angela Merkel voiced her ideas to create a European internet to prevent digital espionage, as reported by whistle blowers, is to have been the case in Germany’s relationship with the United States. A few weeks back, Non-EU trading partner, Switzerland, moved toward a direction to regulate the free flow of EU nationals through its labor market triggering conversations of the sort to reopen in some EU member states.
Recent events in Thailand and Venezuela, on top of reported incidents around the Sochi Olympics in Russia, now adding Iceland, might to some give rise to the question as to whether February is the launching month of a global epidemic of riots.
As of Wednesday morning, local time in, the government had been presented with a petition signed by nearly 29 thousand people, constituting to 11.9 percent of registered voters. The protests in Iceland have been scheduled to resume today, starting at 5 pm, local time, as what appears to be a global epidemic of riots continues.
By Halldor Fannar Sigurgeirsson
Author also sources from his knowledge and experience as a native of Iceland