Baldur Arnarson: Iceland looks for a reason to move on and rebuild

Protesters were noticeable by their absence from the public squares of Reykjavik after the release of yesterday's report. Mindful of the heated demonstrations outside Iceland's parliament in the months following the collapse of the country's three main banks in 2008, the police had prepared for the worst: fortunately, it did not materialise.

But while the streets of downtown Reykjavik were quiet, the internet was not, with bloggers such as Olafur Isleifsson, assistant professor at Reykjavik University School of Business, calling for the resignation of Bjorgvin G Sigurdsson. Mr Sigurdsson, a Social Democratic Alliance MP and a former minister of commerce, was accused by the report of having committed serious errors during his period in office. However, with so many holders of high office having already quit, the report's damning conclusion that the political class failed to prevent the meltdown will not claim as many casualties as one might expect.

Those seen as the main architects of Iceland's collapse are now ridiculed to the extent that they avoid being seen publicly on the island. But further humiliation may follow: this report will be used in criminal cases ahead. And charges are expected.

While Britain prepares for its first parliamentary elections after the credit crunch, Iceland has already seen the collapse of a centre-right government, and the sweep to power of its first left-wing government. In fact, this report may give the government a breather from the political albatross that the deeply unpopular Icesave dispute has turned out to be, overshadowing other matters of urgency.

The nine-volume, 2,300-page report is the most eagerly anticipated political investigation in the history of Iceland. As such, its results were bound to disappoint as well as to surprise.

Eighteen months after the 2008 economic collapse, the report has been regarded as a crucial step towards a new social contract, with some hoping it would rid Icelandic society of the ills that contributed to the meltdown. To compound the drama, a series of delays since November and secrecy during the investigation – the volumes were printed during weekends under the supervision of guards to prevent a leak – have added to the suspense.

The delays have not diminished the interest. Moments after the report was published online, hundreds of pre-ordered copies were handed out in Reykjavik bookstores: one bookseller said the excitement exceeded that of a Harry Potter release.

This has been more than a process of apportioning blame. Yesterday's report has reinvigorated the debate on how Iceland rebuilds its society.

Baldur Arnarson is a journalist at 'Morgunbladid', the Icelandic national newspaper

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?