I have gotten a few panicked emails from American friends these last days which give me the impression that somehow the US media is once again disasterizing the wrong situation (while probably ignoring, or at least whitewashing, the real disaster unfolding daily in the Middle East).
What seems to be going on, through the lens of these fear-filled missives, is that American news outlets are reporting some kind of governmental collapse / slash / humanitarian nightmare unfolding in Iceland. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)
In fact what is happening is entirely welcome from the perspective of most Icelanders, and from the perspective of anyone who understands Parliamentary systems of government. (Check that out on Wikipedia, yo.) The governmental coalition of two parties, one of which ran this place into the ground over the last decade, and the other of which tends to wander around issues like Reagan Democrats playing shuffleboard, finally ended their uncomfortable marriage. We had been waiting for this for months, as all confidence in leadership here had evaporated: it was not one but a whole team of Brownies doing "a heckuva job". That coalition collapsed on Monday.
That left the President of Iceland to pick an interim governing coalition, until May, when we'll have new and early elections for Alþingi
(Parliament), probably combined with a referendum on joining the EU. The Prez picked the Democrat-shuffleboarders (Samfylkingin
), plus the Left-Greens (Vinstri-Græn
), a badly named party whose popularity has taken off in the wake of the "October Surprise", leaving out in the cold, for the first time in 18 years, the local equivalent of the Republicans (Sjálfstæðisflokkur
So it's nothing more than a peaceful transition of political power, in a country where the tradition of representative government was already 1,000 years old in 1930. My worry remains, however, and that is from which corner(s) the true competent leadership will emerge, leadership that can help this country pull itself together and rebuild for a bright future. That part remains to be seen.