Huge numbers of Iceland civilians came out into the streets to protest against their government after leaked documents showed Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson had heavily benefited from his investments in overseas tax heavens.
Police shielded the country’s lawmakers from the wrath of protesters around the parliament in Reykjavik, protecting lawmakers from angry civilians beating drums, throwing eggs and yogurt, and pounding barricades surrounding the legislative building in Reykjavik.
As many as 10,000 people were gathered according to government officials, while the protest organizers claimed figures twice as high. Opposition lawmakers on Monday put forward a motion of no confidence and urged the Prime Minister to resign immediately.
“I’m here to show the authorities my disrespect,” said Aslaug Marinosdottir, an administrator who joined the protests after work. “It is unacceptable that the people that govern the country and enact laws can’t seem to follow the rules of society they create themselves and want the public to follow.”
The finance minister is unsure that the government can survive the outrage. He also added that he will discuss matters with Prime Minister Gunnlaugsson on Tuesday.
Birgitta Jonsdottir, a spokeswoman for the Pirate Party, which brought the motion, said that the voting on confidence will take place on Tuesday. Gunnlaugsson, who rules with the backing of a party led by his Finance Minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, has decided to not to go down despite the allegations. Instead, he is urging the members of parliament to act “calmly and honestly,” and he told lawmakers the revelations from the documents are false, claiming he has never hidden funds in tax heavens abroad.
After the Panama Papers leak unfolded, the opposition argued that it’s not possible for the current government to continue, despite the Prime Minister claiming that he disclosed everything to Icelandic tax authorities at the time.
“The company, which was formed to buy property in Dubai, didn’t make the intended purchases and was later de-registered.”
Filling the square in front of parliament “is our only hope — our only hope” in getting rid of Gunnlaugsson, said Jonsdottir of the Pirate Party. The Pirate Party are expected to win the vote by many polls in Iceland.
Gunnlaugsson, who was elected for four years back in 2013, is likely to be deserted after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, or ICIJ, revealed that he and his wife had an account abroad with an intention to manage their inheritance.
According to Bloomberg, his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, previously revealed the account in a Facebook posting in March after the premier was questioned about the money.
“It’s been clear since before I began participating in politics that my wife had a considerable amount of money. Some people find that in itself very negative. I can’t do much about that because I’m neither going to divorce my wife nor demand that she relinquish her family inheritance.”
The Panama Papers leak is a scandal that has revealed 11.5 million files from the database of the world’s fourth-largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. ICIJ then shared the details of documents with leading media houses like TheGuardian and the BBC.
The leaked documents revealed that many rich people around the world were gaming the system to exploit secret offshore tax rules. The list of the people who were involved in tax scandals included twelve national leaders among 143 politicians. Their families and acquaintances from around the world known are accused of playing their part in the offshore tax paradise scandal.
Other high-profile names that were involved in the Panama Papers leak scandals include David Cameron and Vladimir Putin
[Image via YouTube snapshot]