Iceland parliament back from Christmas holiday, protesters at the ready

Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, comes together today for the first time after its Christmas recess. The first session will be a questions and answers session at 13.30.

According to Althingi information, five MPs are registered to answer questions from other members: Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde, Minister for Education, Science and Culture Thorgerdur Katrin Gunnarsdottir, Minister of Finance Arni M. Mathiesen, Minister for the Environment Thorunn Sveinbjarnardottir and Minister of Trade Bjorgvin G. Sigurdsson.

Among other things, the parliamentary schedule includes discussions on insurance payments to organ donors, the proportion of women working in the financial sector and changes to the laws on social services.

Meanwhile, angry protesters plan to make their presence felt outside the parliament building – especially during the procession of MPs into the building following the traditional church service they will attend in the neighbouring Domkirkjan cathedral next to parliament before the debates begin.

Organisers of today’s special Monday protest encourage everybody in Iceland to stop working between 13.00 and 16.00 in support of the protest. Ideally, people are encouraged to use the three-hour break to go to parliament with drums, pots, pans and whistles to do all they can to disturb parliament’s opening session. As few as several hundred drummers can, it is hoped, make a huge amount of noise.

Protesters are angry at the dire financial situation Iceland finds itself in. They gather to demand new parliamentary elections and the resignation of the boards of the Central Bank of Iceland and the Competition Authority (FME).

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