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Viewing cable 10REYKJAVIK9, PARLIAMENT PASSES LEGISLATION FOR REFERENDUM ON ICESAVE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10REYKJAVIK9 2010-01-11 16:04 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXRO4920
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHRK #0009 0111614
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111614Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4259
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000009 
 
SIPDIS 
 
TREASURY FOR WINN 
NSC FOR HOVENIER 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON IC
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT PASSES LEGISLATION FOR REFERENDUM ON ICESAVE 
 
1. (U) The Icelandic Parliament passed legislation on January 8 
outlining the mechanics for holding a national referendum on the 
Icesave bill.  The referendum, which became necessary when Iceland's 
President refused to sign the bill into law, will occur on either 
February 27 or March 6.  The Minister of Justice will determine the 
exact date in coordination with the Electoral Commission. 
Ultimately, the date will depend on practical considerations such as 
when ballots can be prepared and voter registration lists updated. 
 
2. (U) The legislation passed on January 8 also determined the exact 
language that will appear on the national referendum ballot. 
Despite a contentious debate on the subject, all 49 MPs who were 
present for the vote ended up agreeing on the syntax.  After the 
vote, Birgitta Jonsdottir, an MP from The Movement, complained that 
the referendum language was too stilted and expressed disappointment 
that it was not drafted "in a more human way."  The question on the 
ballot will read as follows: 
 
"Law Number 1/2010 would amend Law Number 96/2009, on giving 
authorization to the Minister of Finance, on behalf of the State 
Treasury, to guarantee a loan given to the Depositors' and 
Investors' Guarantee Fund from the British and the Dutch states to 
cover payments to depositors in Landsbanki Islands hf. Althingi 
passed Law Number 1/2010, but the President rejected its 
confirmation into law.  Should Law Number 1/2010 stay in force?" 
There will be two options to answer this question on the ballot: 
"Yes, it should stay in force" and "No, it should expire." 
 
3. (U) The parliamentary General Affairs Committee emphasized the 
need to explain the issue to voters from a neutral standpoint ahead 
of the referendum and suggested that the Ministry of Justice hire an 
outside firm for this task. Messaging could help the government's 
cause since polling data indicates uncertainty among Icelanders over 
the Icesave issue. The polling institute Market and Media Research 
(MMR) published a poll on January 6 indicating that 58 percent would 
vote 'No' to the Icesave bill in a referendum, and 42 percent would 
support it. A January 7 poll by Gallup, however, showed a change in 
the public's attitudes whereby 53 percent of the nation would vote 
in favor of the law, but 41 percent would reject it. On January 9 
the Frettabladid newspaper published the results from a third poll, 
showng that 60 percent would strike down the bill, and40 percent 
would vote in favor of its passing. Plls taken before the 
President's decision showedan overwhelming majority of the public 
intended t vote against the issue if it went to referendum. 
WATSON