Points from our election platform, 2013

Points from our election platform, 2013

For the first part:

More diversity – A diverse and free society is a good society.

-We should continue building up creative industries, green industries, the technology sector, tourism, research and development, just as Björt framtíð has shown an initiative for.

What we need here is no less than a good, solid integral plan. We will found an action group that has a comprehensive overview of the development process. We need to make other policies of the state, for example its education policies, support this. We need to improve our accumulation of economic statistics for these fields. Fortify competitive funds. Improve the tax environment. To name but a few things that need to be done.

-Open the field for diverse modes of enterprise and service in the welfare system, and for different models of education and schooling—new ideas that bring more options to the table. This benefits everyone.

The Scandinavian nations have been doing this, with good results. And note: more variety and choice, new solutions to old problems, do not mean the end of equal public access to these services. This is key.

-Increase diversity in food production

We can for instance accomplish this by supporting farmers further in using their land in a manner that they themselves believe to be the most efficient. Furthermore, it is very likely that more open import/export structures along with competition from both local and international parties will serve Iceland’s agriculture well, as it is generally of a very high quality.

-Improve the conditions for small and medium-sized businesses all over the country using a pointed plan of action.

We suggest adopting the EU’s policy, which bears the M.O. “Think small first.” It boils down to this: Basing changes in laws and regulations on the unique needs of small businesses. Simplifying regulatory and legal environments. Decreasing state competition with small businesses. Shortening the state’s time allowed for payment to its suppliers. Increasing accessibility to investors and funding. Creating further incentives for innovation and research. Establishing further lines of cooperation between small businesses and the state.

-Let’s celebrate diversity in daily life. Let’s be a nation of culture.

Culture isn’t just for special occasions. Every day is a day of culture. Multiculture, high culture, pop culture and even lowbrow culture all nourish us, challenge us and expand our horizons. We say: let’s create a great environment for culture to prosper and flourish. Let’s encourage creativity, with our words and with our actions.

-Defend human rights

We have some great big tasks to contend with here. To name a few: Let’s eliminate wage inequality. Shut down the state’s naming committee. Instate user-controlled, personal services for the handicapped and ratify the United Nation’s treaty on disabled rights. Level out the legal status of “residency parents” and custodians, to children’s’ benefit. Be vocal proponents of peace and human rights on the international stage.

 

Secondly

Less waste – A society that uses its time, energy, wealth and resources well—and does not waste them—is a successful society

-Let’s make it our main task to increase our productivity.

We want to place emphasis on this issue. A recent report from the McKinsey & Company management consulting firm should serve as a wake up call. Productivity in Iceland is generally less than in our neighbouring countries. Icelanders work long workdays—we are a hard working nation—but the output is not in proportion to that. This is a waste of time and effort. What is the reason for this? What’s needed is an across the board initiative. The goal must be that as many people as possible can work doing what they do best, with optimum efficiency, with family friendly work hours.

-Massively reinforce pre-emptive measures and reorganize the health care system so that people are directed towards solutions that are better fitting to their specific problems, and therefore beneficial to everyone.

We do realize that this is constantly being attempted. It just needs to start happening. Reports show that while Icelanders spend a lot on healthcare, those numbers aren’t reflected in the results. We for instance need to bolster comprehensive health services around the country, increase the availability of hospital beds and build a more economic Landspítali. Doing this, we will be able to better utilize people’s talents, work and public funding. 

-Curtail school dropouts by increasing options and flexibility in the educational system. Unfinished college degrees are a waste of talent, time and money. 

We need to offer more options as to the duration of studies and offer varied paths that are better suited to individual students’ strengths.

-We need to go through the national budget and ask ourselves: Is this necessary? Can we get more bang for our buck?

Example: In the year 2009, the state operated approximately 700 committees, administrations and councils. The cost: one billion ISK. Can we maybe look into that? We could also instigate competition for, and decrease annual write-offs of, public funding, which should be reconsidered altogether.

-Let’s harvest more funds from our energy resources, without excessively harnessing them. This creates profits that we can use to increase prosperity around the country. Further public investment in aluminium plants is not sensible.

Profits from our energy resources can be increased without engaging in massive dam projects that harm our environment. We need to create an owners’ policy for Landsvirkjun where the company’s policy is determined based on profitability, social responsibility and environmental concerns. If we sell our remaining energy reserves at low prices to large-scale buyers, such as aluminium smelting plants, which are very energy consuming, we are effectively wasting a great fortune and a multitude of opportunities as well as creating an unacceptable and excessive need for further harnessing projects that will have a negative effect on Iceland’s nature. 

-Let’s protect the environment. Be environmentally friendly. Green to the core.

Research has indicated that Iceland is one of the most wasteful societies on Earth. This means that we as a community of consumers are taking too high a toll on nature. We need to make it easier for people to be environmentally responsible; sorting their waste, commuting in environmentally friendly ways, recycling products, accessing information on environmentally friendly consumer products and so on. We will need collaboration between municipalities, the private sector and the state, where the subject is taken seriously and with a firm grip, and sustainable use and consumption is always the goal. We need to live and exist with a modicum of moderation and restraint.

 

In third place:

More stability – A stable economic environment would be wonderful thing to have. 

-Let’s seal a good agreement with the EU, one the nation can, following an enlightened discourse, agree upon in a national referendum.

This will open the path for a currency agreement with the European Central Bank (ERM II), which will immediately increase stability. Then, when conditions are right, we can adopt the Euro. Adopting the Euro is of course not a magical solution, however it is likely the best solution we have towards reaching permanent economic stability.

-Let’s make increasing the value of our exports a priority. This will increase stability. 

What’s needed here is a change in outlook, an attitude adjustment. We need to do like the Finns, and greatly emphasize our export industries. This is where sectors like food production and tourism play a large part, but much more is needed. Companies that have great potential for growth and are less tied in with natural restraints need greater and more systematic support. An example of industries that show great promise of growth are design, filmmaking, video game design, the production of energy saving and environmentally sound technologies, bio-technology and so much more. By support, we aren’t only referring to financial support, but creating a comprehensive approach that will result in an optimal environment for these ventures. (This, good people, is in tune with our previous chapter on diversity).

-Let’s make it a definitive goal that Iceland harbours a mortgage loan market with low long-term real interest rates.

Few things would better benefit Icelandic households. This is a question of political focus, which has been lacking from this topic. We need to discuss the basis of our economy, instead of constantly reacting to the fact that the foundations are rotten (as the country’s price indexation policies are a great example of). Inflation needs to go down, permanently. We believe that a stable form of currency will make the biggest difference here, along with increased export revenues and austerity measures in state finances. 

-Until a more stable form of currency is on the table, we need to take action to counter Icelandic households’ loan problems, based on a precise analysis. 

We want to consider every idea out there. The following ideas are an example of possible solutions what we think are worth a closer look: -That a ceiling be placed on price increase compensation for indexed loans. –That persons can opt for a part of their pension payments going towards paying down their mortgages. –That processing fees be eradicated. –That “the 110% solution” also apply to loan collateral. -That the current premises of indexation calculations be reconsidered. We furthermore need to make a goal of establishing a functioning and varied housing rental market in Iceland.

-Let’s instigate a greatly increased collaboration between the government, parliament, municipalities, industry, labour, the financial sector and all sorts of community organizations towards creating long-term goals and reforms in various fields. This will counter uncertainty. 

Since the 2008 collapse, close to 200 reports exploring possible solutions to problems at hand have been published. Many of them are good ones. The strategies are there. A lot of research has been conducted. Now is the time for coordinated action. 

 

As for the fourth part:

Fewer hassles – Not having to worry too much and being able to trust that everything works like it is supposed to greatly increases our quality of life.

-Let’s create an open, competitive environment for the market in Iceland.

Few things are worse for the economy than the restraints and complications imposed on it by capital controls. We want to see them gone, thereby creating an open and international and competitive market environment in Iceland. We know this is what a lot of people want. But it needs to be emphasised nonetheless. The task is a complicated and comprehensive one. One part of it includes negotiating with our creditors about impending payments of large international debts that currently face us. This will alleviate pressure from the Icelandic króna. We need to increase the credibility of our economy, proliferate investment opportunities and create a plan for stability, so that local and international króna holders will refrain from investing them abroad. The adoption of the Euro would eliminate these stifling capital controls for good.

-Let’s make our tax system and social security system fairer, simpler and more transparent.

Income indexing in the welfare system, a jungle of commodity taxes and incomprehensible letters from the tax office. All of these things need to be fixed. We need a comprehensive system that is both understandable and fair.

-Let’s make all state services easily accessible at a single on-line destination, for the public’s convenience.

Many nations have undertaken this task with great success, making information, various applications and the filing of documents accessible in a single on-line hub. Icelanders are very well connected and internet capable. We need to capitalize on that and place an emphasis on such a project. We still can’t forget about IRL. The same basic idea needs to prevail there, making it easy for the public to access what it needs in a simple, convenient manner.

-Let’s make comprehensive reforms on public administration.

Maybe this doesn’t sound like the most impressive campaign platform idea of all time, but it is nonetheless very important. The Government Offices of Iceland need to start operating in a more unified manner, with clear goals. Ministry employees need to be able to easily move between ministries. Public services need to be efficient and comprehensible, with a focus on guideline duties and information dissemination. Unanswered e-mails, for instance, can cause a big nuisance. Everything needs to be in tiptop working order.

-Let’s increase consumer protection and access to information.

We are all consumers, and in order to be able to make enlightened decisions we need easy access to sound information. Laws, regulations, supervision, research and education—we need a combination of and synergy between all these things to protect consumers against fraud, health risks and poor service. Enlightened and aware consumers ensure a healthy marketplace.

 

And last but not least:

More social cohesion – In Iceland, hands of friendship are still up in arms

-Let’s make an effort to respect democratically reached conclusions, to follow up on policy making and leading matters to a conclusion. Let us make better use of direct democracy and incorporate public participation to a greater extent.

A fine example of this is Iceland’s application to join the EU. There will be no public acceptance if the process is ceased and we forego with deciding upon the matter. This is an area where we need to employ democracy and honour our prior decisions. 

– Let’s ratify a new constitution for the nation, based on suggestions from The Constitutional Council, with as much social agreement as possible. Let’s take our time and do this correctly.

This essentially involves noting and reacting to substantial and well-argued comments to the current draft. Furthermore, legal interpretative documentation that will accompany the constitution needs to be clear and concise, like, for instance, the statement that accompanied it. The nation also needs time to acquaint itself with the final draft before it is adopted as our new constitution. Let’s give us the time we need, but not too much time. It would be most beneficial if we could ratify a new constitution with a binding national referendum on the date of the 70th anniversary of The Republic, on June 17 2014. This would leave the final decision in the hands of the nation, much like it was in the case of the current constitution in 1944.

-Let’s create a permanent peace with regards to the fishing industry based on four guiding principles: 1) That the proceeds benefit the nation 2) That harvesting of our fishing grounds be sustainable 3) That the field enjoys good conditions to return a profit and 4) that new parties are able to join the industry.

We believe that we are at the cusp of a permanent solution in these matters, that will incorporate all these factors, and that it is very possible to finish the task with good cooperation between all involved parties.

-Let’s make our national budget more transparent and sensible Let’s plan further ahead than one year at a time, and ensure that the public is better aware of its implications.

It is important that fields are framed within sensible boundaries, and that policies are followed up with proper financial contributions.

-That every law and state action takes into consideration the freedom of individuals and groups for independent, creative and responsible activities. We need to increase space for this wherever possible.

Iceland should be a meritocratic society. Iceland should for instance not be a society of cliques and factions, nor a society where success is arbitrary and determined by outside factors and hidden interests. This is of course a common goal, but an important one, as Iceland has unfortunately not quite reached this place. 

-Let’s make Alþingi’s work more constructive by changing its parliamentary procedures. Let’s work towards peace. Let’s speak fairly and with respect about one another. This is how we promote trust in the institution, and in society.

We promise to never engage in mudslinging.

 

This resolution was passed by Björt framtíð’s administration on March 5, 2013. 

You can also participate in the party’s foundational and work on www.heimasidan.is. A lot of this document’s contents are derived from there. 

 Click here to view a video about the parliamentary elections in Iceland 2013. Björt framtíð’s letter is A.