Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Icelanders riot outside parliament over economic crisis

The small Scandanavian country, blessed with abundant natural resources and enjoying one of the highest living standards in the world is hardly the kind of place one associates with economic catastrophe and riots. All that changed yesterday when thousands took to the streets to protest the present government's handling of the recent financial crisis. With gross national product down two thirds, a 45% rise in unemployment and the country defaulting on loan repayments Icelanders are faced with the worst economic crisis in living memory.

Riot police clashed with demonstators (click here for video) outside the Althingi House, Iceland's parliament after 2000 people surrounded the building according to Icelandic journalist, Iris Erlingsdottir writing in The Huffington Post. Icelandic press reports said Over 30 arrests were made, including an 11 year - old.

The target of their anger members of the government that presided over a meltdown in the banking sector and wider economy which has been so severe that a third of islanders are considering emmigration according to a report in the Economist. The coalition government has repeatedly rejected calls for elections in light of the current situation

As with the recent riots and protests in Greece, the impression that those in power have lined their own pockets while ordinary citizens have had to pay the price for financial mismangament has infuriated ordinary Icelanders.

Despite sub zero temperatures the protests have continued for a second day with members of the parliamentary opposition taking time out from debates to join the demonstrators.

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For more updates check out Iceland banking crisis video and more 2008 and 2009 blog.

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