EU membership no priority for Icelandic social democrats

Today, a week after the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin), held its biannual general meeting, nothing has been reported in the Icelandic media concerning what was decided during the meeting on matters concerning Iceland's relationship with the European Union. Not one word! Furthermore it has proved very hard to find any documents concerning that on the internet. In fact I haven't been able to find any yet. This all points to what actually comes as no surprise that EU membership is no priority for Icelandic social democrats, at least not at the moment. And more than that it hasn't been since before the Icelandic general elections in the spring of 2003. For those who don't know, the Social Democratic Alliance is the only political party in Iceland which is in favour of joining the EU although membership is obviously not on its agenda.

The new chairman of the Social Democratic Alliance, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, was intended by the party to become a Prime Minister after the elections in 2003. That is of course if the party would have been able to form a government which turned out not to be the case. However, before the elections Gísladóttir said in an interview that the Social Democratic Alliance was willing to scrap its policy of entering membership negotiations with the EU if that policy would prove to be an obstacle for taking part in forming the next government. So EU membership doesn't seem to be much of a priority for her personally either.

Lastly, the Social Democratic Alliance held a mail election in the end of the year 2002 among its members where they were asked if starting membership negotiations with the EU at some point in the future should be the policy of the party or not. Before the elections the leadership of the party had talked about its intention to hold it for months and the party also held meetings all over the country to introduce it (and run propaganda for a yes). Nevertheless only about 30% of the members of the party bothered to participate and about 2/3 of them said yes - in other words around 20% af the members. So furthermore it doesn't seem like EU membership is a priority for the common members of the Social Democratic Alliance either.

However, the leadership of the party claimed this was a great support for putting negotiations with the EU on its agenda but then dropped the idea completely only few months later just before the general elections in 2003 when several opinion polls indicated that vast majority of Icelanders were opposed to EU membership. Since then the leadership of the party has hardly spoken of the idea of joining the EU.