Iceland's Foreign Minister in an growing desperation

Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson has an article today in the Icelandic tabloid DV where he lashes out aginst those in Iceland who are fighting against membership of the European Union, and have always fought against it, for doing that. This is seen as yet another token of the growing desperation among membership supporters that the application is heading for even more difficulties than it has already.

Skarphéðinsson's government has been distancing itself from the application in recent months claiming on a number of occasions it was not the government's policy to apply but merely the decision of the Icelandic parliament. The reason probably being the growing opposition to the application both among the voters in general and within the junior coalition partner the Left Green Movement.

As everyone else in Iceland Skarphéðinsson knows that the EU application was exceptionally poorly prepared and that it was rushed into it despite the fact that there has never been a necessary support in Iceland for taking such a step, neither political nor public. The Foreign Minister, however, chooses instead to blame those who everyone knew would continue to fight against an EU application for the mess.

On top of this there are rumours that MPs from Skarphéðinsson's Social Democratic Alliance, the current senior coalition parner and the only political party in Iceland that favours EU membership, are now hoping to form a new and less fragile government with the conservative Independence Party which has the policy that the EU application must be withdrawn immediately.


New internet poll in Iceland on the EU

New internet poll was made public today in Iceland which shows 58% opposed to membership of the European Union and 29% in favour. The poll was made yesterday by the popular Icelandic radio station Bylgjan.

Although this poll was not produced as scientificly as for example ones produced by Capacent (a question was simply asked at the second most popular Icelandic website where everyone could participate but each ip-number only once) the results are nevertheless surprisingly in line with such purely scientific polls.

Reykjavík síðdegis spurði: Hver er þín afstaða til ESB aðildar Íslands í dag? (Bylgjan.is September 9, 2010)


New government policy: No mention of the EU application

Significant changes were made to the Icelandic center-left government last week with new ministers coming in and others leaving. After these changes political analysts have said there is more hostility against membership of the European Union within the government than was before they took place.

But what has been seen as the most interesting change is that the new government policy does not mention the EU issue at all unlike the original government platform. However, this is in line with repeated statements by government ministers in recent months that the ongoing EU application is not the policy of the government but merely the decision of the Icelandic parliament.

This has led to speculations in Iceland that the government, especially the junior partner the Left Greens, may be preparing an organised retreat on the issue. After all it has become clear that not only the government is split on the question whether to proceed with the application but also the senior government partner the social democrats.

Þögn um Icesave og ESB aðild í 20 mála verkefnaskrá ríkis­stjórnar­innar (Evropuvaktin.is September 2, 2010)


Majority now also against membership talks

For years supporters of membership of the European Union told the Icelandic people it was possible to enter some kind of a scouting membership talks with the EU without any formatlity or obligations. In Icelandic it was called "könnunarviðræður". Membership talks with the sole aim to see exactly what the EU had to offer.

Even when the application for EU membership was delivered last year by the Icelandic government its leaders claimed the aim was not to join the EU but merely to see what it had to offer and they are still saying this. Now they are finally realising that the EU has whole other ideas about the process after the application.

For years public opinion polls as a result showed a majority for "membership talks" while there was usually majority at the same time against in polls asking if people were in favour of "applying for EU membership". But now people have obviously finally realised that some scouting membership talks are not on the table.

As a result a new poll produced for the pro-EU movement in Iceland showed a majority against "membership talks". This was in fact their final straw when it came to public opinion polls and now they don't have that anymore.


Increasing support for the Independence Party

The support for the conservative Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) has increased significantly this summer after the party underlined its opposition to membership of the European Union by demanding that the application would be withdrawn without delay.

The Independence Party continues to be by far the largest political party and now has according to Capacent poll 35 percent of the votes compared to only 24 percent in the last general elections in Iceland in the spring of 2009.

The party which has lost most support according to the poll is the Social Democratic Alliance which is the only Icelandic political party that favours EU membership.

Fylgi Sjálfstæðisflokksins eykst á milli mánaða (Capacent.is August 12, 2010)