|Comical Corruption (ESA)|
|Written by Iceland Review|
|Friday, 06 January 2012 11:00|
Practically every Icelander watches Áramótaskaupið, a comedy sketch show aired shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve which parodies the news and events of the past year and remains top secret until that moment (you can watch it online here).
The show is awaited with great anticipation and everyone has an opinion on it: was it funny or not, were the right people made fun of, did it go too far or not far enough on certain issues, was it too political, not political enough, were the actors good, etc.
Apart from (usually) being funny, Áramótaskaupið also provides a good review of the year and offers sharp criticism through comedy. This time I found most sketches brilliant.
While driving back from Akureyri on Monday I listened to a radio program where people could call in and comment on Áramótaskaupið.
One theologian was very offended that God was made fun of. I don’t recall that particular scene but the good bishop was portrayed with a goat to which he had transferred all his sins.
“No goat can give people absolution. Only Jesus can!” the caller preached, adding that he disliked the hullaballoo around the bishop. Personally, I thought it was well deserved given last year’s events.
Another caller was discontent about all the dirt tossed at the right-wing Independence Party. Its chair, Bjarni Benediktsson, was ridiculed strolling around a shopping mall, bugging people, behaving strangely and making out-of-character comments.
It turned out that he was being controlled remotely by two former prime ministers of the Independence Party, Geir H. Haarde and Davíð Oddsson, who were having a laugh at “little Bjarni”, their private marionette. Hilarious… and perhaps not that far off.
At a party after his reelection as chair, Bjarni described his party members as “djöfulsins snillingar” (literally: “devilish geniuses”), and praised them for all the corruption they had gotten away with.
In his column in Viðskiptablaðið business weekly on January 5, Jón Aðalsteinn Bergsveinsson listed some of these dubious deeds, including one which Bjarni himself has been linked to (although he denied having had any part in it, of course), a plot called vafningsfléttan, allegedly orchestrated to drain funds out of the insurance company Sjóvá.
The connection of MP Tryggvi Þór Herbertsson to Askar Capital owned by the brothers Karl and Steingrímur Wernersson, whose affairs are being investigated by the Special Prosecutor’s Office, was also brought up.
As was the almost ISK 1 billion (USD 8 million, EUR 6 million) bullet loan from Kaupþing granted to Kristján Arason, husband of MP and former Minister of Education and former Independence Party vice-chair Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, mentioned in the report of Althingi parliament’s Special Investigation Commission (SIC).
Þorgerður went on leave from parliament but later returned as if nothing had happened. The same goes for MP Illugi Gunnarsson and indeed MP Björgvin G. Sigurðsson, Social Democrat and former Minister of Economic Affairs, whose actions and affairs were also criticized in the SIC report.
How quickly people forget. It’s a good thing then that Áramótaskaupið reminds us how corrupted and/or impotent the people who represent us in parliament have proven to be.
For example, Independence Party MP Árni Johnsen was sentenced to two years prison in 2003 for embezzlement, breach of trust in a public position, corruptibility and providing a false report to the authorities after having been entrusted with overseeing repairs to the National Theater in 2001, Jón Aðalsteinn recollects.
After serving his sentence Árni was pardoned and reelected to parliament (perhaps he got hold of that absolution goat?), yet he doesn’t seem to have learned much from his time behind bars.
Last year he shocked his fellow parliamentarians by suggesting they pay a band “under the table” for playing at the parliament’s annual celebration, literally declaring his support for tax evasion.
It’s hard to keep track of all the strange things that are going on, like the loan held by director of Íslandsbanki Birna Einarsdóttir which allegedly mysteriously disappeared.
Áramótaskaupið included that little incident in a scene where Birna refuses to write off the loans of a customer who saw them skyrocket after the banks collapsed.
The good old PM Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and her trusty Finance Minister Steingrímur J. Sigfússon (now Minister of Fisheries, Agriculture, Economic Affairs and soon Industry too—are there no other ministries he can take over?) got their share of the criticism too.
Throughout the show they are portrayed as driving on the long and winding road out of the crisis, encountering all sorts of weirdoes along the way on an expedition entitled: “The Time of the Witch”.
Eventually everyone is washed out to sea and the country’s youth exclaims: “good riddance!” Indeed, it seems as if there will be some changes to Iceland’s political landscape this year and next… one can only hope future politics will be less corrupt.
|Last Updated on Friday, 06 January 2012 14:20|