Herring and Class Struggle

Capitalism came late to Iceland. At the end of the 19th century this large, wind-swept, thinly populated island was made up of small towns, farms and seasonal fishing stations. Then European capitalists saw another Klondike in the herring-rich waters of the north Atlantic..

Monday, 2 January 2012

The Progress of some Women is not necessarily the progress of the Class

The majority of Ministers in the Althing are now women. The Icelandic Parliament also has its first ever woman Minister of Finance, Oddný Harðardóttir. Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is keen we should celebrate these 'developments in equality' in Iceland.
However the Cabinet reshuffle actually has far more to do with the Social Democrats’ determination to take Iceland into the EU which is opposed by Vinstrihreyfingin - grænt, (VG) the Left-Green Movement, most of the opposition in the Althing as well generally as those whose livelihoods rely on fishing or whaling.
Jón Bjarnason of VG has gone from the cabinet, as has Árni Páll Árnason of the Social Democrats (SDP) who is also against Iceland going into the EU.
Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, the Chair of VG who was Finance minister, has been moved to Agriculture and Fisheries. The right wing of the coalition is not able to stay in power without the VG, so they couldn’t get rid of him completely and Jón Bjarnason who was Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, has been highly critical of Steingrímur.  
In a nasty little aside a former SD MP, Anna Margrét Gudjónsdóttir has said Jón Bjarnason ‘should be disciplined for voting against the majority’. Presumably the Social Democrats didn’t have the nerve to have a current MP argue he should vote against his party’s own manifesto and his constituants.
The new Finance Minister, Oddný Harðardóttir, made an election film in 2009 arguing that as everyone needs a decent working life, her party would maximise work opportunities and to do this they must join the EU. With all the European States economies in crisis, she will now preside over more public sector job cuts and rising prices. Rather than promote equality, this government will hit women hardest with more unemployment and social care thrown back on the family.
When Jóhanna says these changes will strengthen the Government, she means its right wing. The real question is what is the Left Green Movement doing in coalition with these people?

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