Iceland appoints new fisheries minister

Iceland appoints new fisheries minister

Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson has taken over as Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture in the Icelandic government’s reshuffle following the revelation that prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson had been implicated in undeclared ownership of an offshore company together with his wife.

Iceland has been in political turmoil over the last few days, with record numbers taking part in demonstrations outside Parliament that include throwing bananas at the Parliament building – the subtext being to highlight Iceland’s perceived status among much of the electorate as a banana republic.

Prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson finally moved aside after some confusion over whether he was actually stepping down or just taking a break, with fisheries minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson taking his place as Progressive Party ministers swapped chairs to fill the gap.

Minister of foreign affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson has taken over as minister of fisheries and agriculture, while Lilja Alfreðsdóttir takes his place on the foreign affairs brief.

So far only the prime minister has stepped down, but other ministers are also implicated following the release of the Panama Papers, which could yet claim a few more political scalps.

The government has pledged to hold elections this autumn, earlier than had been planned. It remains to be seen if the present coalition government is able to weather the strength of popular opinion calling for it stand down and many people have voiced the opinion that early autumn elections are as likely to take place as the EU membership that the present administration pledged itself to hold before it was elected in 2013.

Opposition parties have gained significant followings during the present government’s term of office and if those figures are translated into votes at the next election, then the political landscape in Iceland can be expected to change considerably at the next election – with implications for the country’s fishing business.