Icelanders have for a second time rejected plans to recompense people from other countries who had deposited their savings with the bankrupt Icesave bank, thus blocking Iceland’s path into the EU.
“A brave people, these Icelanders!” writes Die Frankfurter Rundschau (April 11). “For the second time they have ignored all the warnings and rejected a debt-settlement agreement they consider unfair – despite all the prophecies that this will cost them a long period of uncertainty, potentially a lot of money and ultimately EU membership.
“This is refreshingly democratic. That it shouldn’t be the taxpayers who pay for the failures of the banks and the greed of customers lured by the promise of high interest is a view many people in other countries no doubt share. But they aren’t being asked…. As writer Einar Mar Gudmonson put it: a ‘Yes’ would have meant admitting a crime that one hadn’t committed for the sake of getting off more lightly.”
The Swiss Tages-Anzeiger (April 12) goes even further. “What does the entire process mean for the Eurozone, of which Iceland is not a member?” the paper asks. “Before the vote, the Icelanders were told that if they voted against compensation the British and Dutch governments would sue for the money. But that wasn’t the greatest threat because the outcome of such a court case is not certain. More significant was the threat that the Icelandic government’s plans to join the EU might have to be postponed. But the citizens of Iceland obviously weren’t intimidated by the prospect. So the Icelandic referendum can also be interpreted as a rejection of the idea of joining the EU club.”