Voters in Iceland are about to elect their first ever left-wing government, if opinion polls are borne out, when they choose a new government this weekend.
They are voting two years early, their country taken to the brink of bankruptcy by the long-standing conservative government, which collapsed three months ago. As the de-regulated banking sector ballooned to ten times the national budget, so the pile of debt bloated. And the bubble burst. The Social Democrats and Left-Greens formed a caretaker government under the veteran Johanna Sigursdottir. And the polls suggest they’ll win a majority. Ottar Overby, who lives in Reykjavik, said: “I don’t think anyone can be happy. People think the old government was lacking in leadership. This greed was total madness.” Another resident in the city, Rakel Gylfadottir said: “There has been a kind of revolution in Iceland, and revolution claims a change. So people need the change, the society needs a change, and the change will be on the left wing.” The depth of Icelanders’ anger is not hard to understand. Before the banks crashed in October last year, unemployment was negligible. Now its touching nine per cent of the workforce, and growing. The new administration is looking towards EU membership as a way out.