The Independent Party made serious mistakes – but what about Samfylkingin?

Something wonderful happened this weekend. The Independent Party’s committee on the economic crisis actually managed to deliver a tough report on its party’s responsibility. It is an interesting read, here are the main conclusions. 

What should the Independent Party have done better? 

– The Central Bank made serious mistakes in lending to the banks and the worst mistake was to agree on the creation of the foreign savings accounts like IceSave. It should have reacted to the overheating in the economy already in 2004 or 2005. The public was not made aware of the possibility that the liability of the foreign savings accounts could lie with the Icelandic state. 

– It was unfortunate that the Central Bank should be under the governance of former politicians. The discourse about their work and the banks aims cannot be painted in political colours.

– Sufficient restraint and supervision was not performed by the Financial Authority, Central Bank and ministries. 

– The government stood for uncontrolled expansion of the state in the good times and the support of the Independent Party for the Progressive Party’s 90% home loans was ill-considered and ill-fated. The un-balance which the race between the banks and the Home Loan Fund caused was a disaster. 

– The privatization of the banks was highly questionable. The process was unclear and more favourable offers for the state were dismissed. The original ideology of spread ownership was ignored. The banks were handed to political allies who were inexperienced in banking, especially international finance.

–  The disbandment of the State Economic Research Institution was unfortunate, especially as nothing filled the gap. Its professional and independent research and comments on the economy could have been useful in the past few years. 

– The Independent Party’s hesistance to discuss the EU, monetary policy, the currency, state-finances and the operation of parliament  until the collapse of the banks has been damaging to the country. The party should have promoted stronger discussions in its ranks. The party must listen to members and not avoid discussing tough topics until it is in dire straits. 

– It is questionable that roughly 100 days after one of the largest economic collapses of a western state in times of peace, no one was made responsible on the behalf of the Independent Party. The message to the nation that no one should shoulder political responsibility is wrong. The Icelandic definition of political responsibility is not enough in this case. Political responsibility is not about a representative of the people staying on through thick and thin, even though he has made mistakes himself or mistakes have been made by his employees, but exactly the opposite. He should rather stand up and leave even in the cases where no laws have been broken, and let the institutions enjoy the benefit of the doubt, instead of putting their own personal reasons in the way. 

It is an interesting read, not least because on the same weekend (coincidence?) Samfylkingin decided to stick to the same people as before. I asked the question on TV yesterday where the young people of Samfylkingin were hiding? The only openly critical and outraged member is Jon Baldvin Hannibalsson, a 70-year old. Samfylkingin has always criticized the Independent Party for its blind loyalty to its leaders and lack of discourse in its ranks.

Has it now become itself what it despises the most? 

This report from the Indpendent Party does not wipe its slate clean, but it certainly is a necessary exercise in organizational democracy.


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