Iceland Decides 2017: Left-Green Movement

left-green movement

In the latest in a series looking at the political parties contesting the Icelandic election this month, here is a look at the party that is set to form the next government in Iceland (if polling is to be believed) – the Left-Green Movement.

HISTORY

The Left-Green Movement is a left-wing and environment party in Iceland and is the second largest party in Iceland. The party was formed in February 1999 by a number of MPs in the Icelandic parliament (the Althing) who opposed the merger of left-wing political parties into the Social Democratic Alliance. In its first elections just three months later, the party gained just over nine percent of the vote, winning six seats in parliament.

The party has often been the third or fourth party in Icelandic politics, with its best result in 2009 (with 14 seats) seeing it enter government for the first time, led by the party that it had split away from. The 21.6% share of the vote the party achieved in 2009 was the second largest vote share received by a socialist party in Iceland, after the former communist People’s Alliance in 1978 (with 22.9%).

In the last election, the Left-Green Movement became the second largest party for the first time in the party’s history – receiving 15.9% of the vote and ten seats in parliament.

The party’s current leader is former journalist and lecturer Katrín Jakobsdóttir. She was elected to the position in February 2013, just months before the party lost half their seats in elections that year. Prior to those elections, which saw the party leave government, Katrín served as Minister of Education, Science and Culture from 2009.

IDEOLOGY

The Left-Green Movement believe in democratic socialism, environmentalism and feminism. The party supports increased and direct democracy and the integration of immigrants into Icelandic society. However, the party opposes Iceland’s continued membership of NATO and proposed Icelandic membership of the European Union.

MANIFESTO

Health

  • Agree on a plan to strengthen the healthcare system and increase total expenditure to 11% of GDP by 2020 within the first 100 days in government
  • Push to complete the construction of a new National University Hospital and strengthen ambulance services throughout the country
  • Aim to remove all charges for healthcare services at hospitals and health clinics, starting with children, disabled people, and senior citizens, to prevent a dual healthcare system from developing in Iceland

Economy and taxation

  • Prevent tax evasion by individuals and companies through increased tax surveillance and tax investigations and the prohibition or limitation of the use of offshore companies in tax havens
  • Introduce progressive tax rates, in line with other Nordic countries, to ensure richest contribute more to society
  • Implement an additional carbon fee and introduce a comprehensive plan for green taxation with green incentives
  • Create a communal mortgage bank to guarantee loans to citizens to buy houses throughout the country

Job sectors

  • Make sure fishing industry is using fish stocks in a sustainable way, following the recommendations of scientists
  • Invest more in infrastructure to respond to the rapid growth in tourism
  • Aim to have 3% of GDP going into research and development by the end of the term

Welfare

  • Increase housing subsidies and make sure that mortgages are available for people of all income levels to achieve the goal of making housing costs less than a quarter of disposable income
  • Simplify the benefits system to help pensioners and ensure pensions are pegged to minimum salaries
  • Reduce the Icelandic work-week to increase productivity and quality of life
  • Stop heavy sentencing for drug abuse, whilst taking stronger actions against drug dealers, importers and producers of narcotics

Foreign affairs

  • Reject international free trade agreements that transfer power from people to corporations
  • Welcome more refugees (at least 500 a year) and strengthen the status of immigrants, such as through providing more Icelandic language classes free of charge
  • Reject armed interventions abroad, advocate for international peace agreements and combat weapons production – as such, Iceland should remain outside of military alliances

Environment

  • Work to make Iceland a carbon neutral country by 2050 by abandoning plans for oil production, replace fossil fuels with renewable energy resources and capturing carbon through mitigation measures
  • Establish a national park in the central highlands and west fjords
  • Strategically reduce use of plastics for packaging and increase reuse
  • Include an environmental provision in the Constitution stating that natural resources are owned by the nation and that their use must be in harmony with the environment and nature

Education

  • Guarantee equal rights to education, irrespective of age, residence and finances
  • Ensure that funding per university student reaches the OECD average as soon as possible and increased to the point of other Nordic countries
  • Make student loans also cover the actual cost of living and continue to keep interest rates for student loans at a maximum of one percent

Women’s rights

  • End the gender pay gap by lifting the secrecy regarding salaries, ensuring transparent and objective decision-making
  • Work toward the shortening of the work week without the reduction of pay, increasing the standard of living of the public and equalising the responsibility for housework
  • Establish a violence prevention council that includes all responsive and professional fields involved in violence prevention in order to implement the action plan
  • Comprehensively review the legislation on trans- and intersex people with human rights and self-determination in mind
  • Include education in the field of equality and gender studies at every education level

Democracy

  • Finish the new constitution as based on the proposals of the Constitutional Council and progress made when Left-Green Movement was last in government
  • Ensure a strong and independent media by establishing a fund for investigative journalism and lower the value-added tax on the media in order to improve their operating conditions
  • Review all legislation with human rights in mind – make sure all laws protect social, economic and cultural human rights
  • Make the government more transparent and ensure that it benefits the people

 

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at a party that has had a meteoric rise in Iceland over the last few years and could potentially help form the next government – the Pirate Party.

8 responses to “Iceland Decides 2017: Left-Green Movement

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