Wednesday 2 November, on his INN programme, former government minister Bjorn Bjarnason discussed the results of the 29 October Icelandic parliamentary elections with Professor Hannes H. Gissurarson, RNH Academic Director. They also discussed possible coalition governments and the forthcoming US presidential elections. Professor Gissurarson said that the voters had sent two unequivocal messages to the politicians: They wanted Independence Party leader Bjarni Benediktsson as Prime Minister and they were against a left-wing government. The most interesting news from the elections was, according to Professor Gissurarson, that the traditional Icelandic Left (consisting of the Social Democrats and the left socialist People’s Alliance, since 1998 known respectively as the Social Democratic Union and the Left Greens) had never been smaller. The Icelandic Left had historically enjoyed the support of about 30–35% of the voters. Its support had risen to 44% in 1978 and to no less than 51% in 2009, after the bank collapse. Now it was only around 21%.
It was clear, Professor Gissurarson added, that the Pirate Party had lost the election campaign. Ordinary people had not been comfortable with them. However, in this as in all election campaigns people tended to overestimate the capacity of government to improve matters. Neither economic growth nor happiness could be created or planned for by government; those were the achievements of individuals, with hard work, initiative and prudence. We should, Professor Gissurarson submitted, say to the state what Diogenes said to Alexander the Great when the Emperor hovered over the hermit and asked whether he could do anything for him. Diogenes replied: “Yes, you can move away from the sun.” Gissurarson said that Hillary Clinton was the least worst of the two main presidential candidates in the US, whereas Donald Trump was against free trade. Instead of building walls like Trump, we should build bridges. Moreover, Trump did not seem to have a pleasant personality. He did not, for example, show respect to women. Professor Gissurarson said that he was a liberal feminist in the same sense as John Stuart Mill: men and women should be equal before the law, and they should enjoy equal respect and dignity.