Iceland // Reykjavík //

Icelandic people power


Every Saturday between mid-October 2008 and late January 2009, thousands of Icelanders gathered in Austurvöllur to voice their anger over the collapse of the Icelandic banking system which, it’s estimated, left one in five families bankrupt. The protesters began by burning the flag of Landsbanki, though soon also called for heads to roll. The main target of popular discontent was the leader of the Icelandic Central Bank and former long-serving politician, Davið Oddsson, who was squarely blamed for the economic collapse. The demonstrators became more vocal as the lack of decisive action by the government continued. Three and a half months of protests, in Austurvöllur and at various locations around the country, finally convinced Prime Minister Geir Haarde that his administration had no future; to national jubilation, it fell on January 26, 2009. However in 2012 a special court found Haarde not guilty of negligence over the economic meltdown, accusing him merely of failing to hold cabinet meetings when things turned critical. Equally exonerated, Davið Oddsson is today editor of the country’s biggest newspaper, Morgunblaðið.

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