By Madalina Maria Iancu, 2013 CIPE Blog Competition Winner. Read the other winning blogs here.
There are not many “peaceful” revolutions in the history of mankind, especially during the last decades of our modern history. Even if we think to join these two words — “revolution” and “peaceful” — it does sound a bit unusual.
This is the reason why I chose to write about this example of a totally atypical revolution, which happened recently in Iceland. In my opinion, the Icelandic Revolution is an example of the fact that a revolution doesn’t have to be violent and bloody but peaceful and civilized and with a positive approach things can be changed in order to improve the status quo and to create a better standard of living.
There were also other movements also called “peaceful,” as it is a new paradigm, but still…nothing like Iceland.
One of the characteristics that made this revolution so atypical is its duration. It all started in 2008, when the main bank of Iceland was nationalized, the currency of Iceland devalued and the stock market halted. The country was in bankruptcy. During 2008 – 2009 as a result of the citizen’s protests and demonstrations, both the prime minster and the whole government resigned. New elections were held. In spite of these changes, Iceland remained in a bad economic situation.
An act of Parliament was passed in order to pay back 3.5 billion Euros to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands by the people of Iceland over the next 15 years, with 5.5 percent interest.
In 2010, the people of Iceland demanded a referendum on this matter. In January of 2010, the President of Iceland denied approval of this act, instead announcing a popular vote in order to consult the people on this matter.
In March 2010, a referendum and denial of payment was approved by popular vote of 93 percent. Meanwhile, government officials initiated an investigation to bring to justice those responsible for the crisis. Many high level executives and bankers were arrested. Interpol dictated an order to force all implicated parties to leave Iceland.
An assembly was then elected to write a new constitution in order to avoid entrapments of debt based on loans in foreign currency. Twenty-five citizens were chosen in this regard — with no political affiliation — out of the 522 candidates. The only qualifications for candidacy are adulthood and the support of 30 people. The constitutional assembly started its activity in February, 2011. It continues to present “magna carta” from recommendations provided by various assemblies throughout the country. Ultimately, it must be approved by both the current Parliament and the one created through the next legislative election.
In my opinion, in Romania one of the biggest problems is bad management of the country at the political level. The political regime seems to have forgotten about its mission – to represent the people’s interest and to work for the national welfare. Our rulers and political leaders must learn to put the needs of the population ahead of their economic interests or any other kind of interests.
The Icelandic Revolution talks about courage, boldness, responsibility and most of all about acting together to the benefit of the whole nation. At the same time, it is also a good example of democracy and economic development since the country managed to improve its economic status in spite of the international crisis.
This is the most important lesson that Romanian youth could learn from this example.
During the last two years, young people from Romania have learned to say no and go out in the streets to protest and fight for their beliefs (example: in 2012 there were big demonstrations against the results of the referendum to suspend the President Basescu and in 2013 the protests against the “Rosia Montana affair”). These were two important steps, but is necessary to keep this trend and to take action.
Although the Icelandic Revolution was an important event in the international context and it really made a difference, somehow it never had a big impact in the media. It seems that the press coverage was not so extended and the international media somehow neglected to report about it. The Icelandic Revolution could have a huge impact on other nations as well and this is a “dangerous” aspect because their successful story can be exported.
In conclusion, the Icelandic Revolution is a good and positive example and a source of inspiration both for Romanian youth and for other countries as well.
Madalina Maria Iancu says:
“I started blogging one year ago because I felt I have something to say and to share to the world. My target is formed mostly by Romanians readers. It is a general blog, because I have many topics which interest me. I was not able to limit myself to a certain niche. I write mostly about events reviews, book reviews, magazines, personal development topics, personal experiences and opinions on matters that draw my attention and I write for different local blogging competitions.”
This was Iancu’s first article written in English. You can read her blog (in Romanian) here.