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Payback time for Iceland's angry voters

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Payback time for Iceland's angry voters


The people of Iceland have been celebrating getting their point across to their politicians.

The public voted loud and clear in a referendum yesterday against a plan to pay back debt to Britain and the Netherlands. Just two percent voted for.

After casting her ballot, Jakobina Auginsdottir said: “I think it is the same kind of message that people all over the world would like to give to their government about the bail-outs. We don’t want to pay for a system that isn’t working.”

Another Reykjavic resident Smar McCarthy expressed a similar sentiment: “I think that what’s happened is that people have said that they are not willing to accept being put into any sort of debt slavery.”

The debt relates to the collapse of Iceland’s Icesave bank in 2008. The British and Dutch governments reimbursed their citizens who were online customers of Icesave and are demanding their money back.

The repayment plan put to voters was drawn up late last year and would have cost them around 100 euros each per month for eight years.

But long before the referendum, everyone had given up hope in the agreement as it stood; even the prime minister who brokered it didn’t bother voting.

Johanna Sigurdardottir said the result was no surprise and that her government would continue, adding “we need to get on with the task in front of us, namely to finish the negotiations with the Dutch and the British.”

Since the referendum result was all but a formality, the three governments have started putting together a new plan. The British and Dutch governments have offered easier repayment terms, meaning Icelanders were voting on a deal that was already obsolete.

But even if the victory was somewhat hollow, it was satisfying nonetheless.

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