Since the beginning of this year the results of most opinion polls in Iceland have been unfavourable for those who want the country to become a part of the European Union. However, it has become quite obvious that it depends which questions are being asked. Let us take a look at how the polls have behaved through the years including this one:
Polls asking if people wanted to start membership talks (aðildarviðræður) with the EU have almost always resulted in a majority in favour.
Polls asking if people wanted to apply for membership (umsókn um aðild) of the EU have almost always resulted in a majority against.
Polls asking if people wanted to join the EU have usually resulted in a 50/50 situation.
The first two examples obviously contradict each other. But this has an explanation. For years people in favour of EU membership have claimed it was possible to enter some kind of a non-obligational "scouting talks" with the EU just to find out what kind of a deal Iceland would be able to get.
Many people in Iceland find the EU issue very complicated so there has been much interest in these kinds of talks. But at the same time people are opposed to a formal application for EU membership. This explaines the contradicting results of polls asking about starting membership talks and applying for membership.
Those in favour of EU membership have always pointed to the polls asking for membership talks as a token of the alledged support in Iceland for applying for membership. But when everything is taken into the picture it must be assumed that there is simply no majority in Iceland for either applying for EU membership or joining the EU.
The Icelandic government, which is led by the only pro-EU political party in Iceland (The Social Democratic Alliance), opposed a proposal to put the application for EU membership to the people in a referendum. The obvious reason is because the government knew applying for membership would be rejected.
However, Icelanders will get a referendum on whether to actually join the EU or not when the accession talks are over.