Iceland centre-right opposition poised for election win
Iceland centre-right opposition poised for election win
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Though temperatures were close to freezing, this week saw Iceland mark the official start of Summer. And as the country votes on Saturday, there's also likely to be a change in the political weather. After four years in power, polls suggest the ruling left-wing coalition will be heavily beaten by centre-right parties. The dramatic banking crash of 2008, sparked by the global economic crisis, is still fresh in many people's minds] SOUNDBITE 1 Kolbeinn Stefansson, University of Iceland (English, 20 secs): "The current government, or the outgoing government rather, has been quite successful in restoring the economy following the collapse of the Icelandic banks; what they have not been successful at is getting their success across… I think a lot of people feel that the government has been representing the system more than the interests of the families and people in Iceland." The government may feel slightly hard done by. The Progressive and Independence parties, who are leading the polls, were in charge when Iceland's three largest banks collapsed. And Iceland's 320 000 people still enjoy high living standards, with unemployment at just 4.7 percent. SOUNDBITE 2 Arni Pall Arnasson, leftwing Alliance candidate (English, 21 secs): "The choice is: do we want to build on that success, and continue to strive for stable economic conditions, stable growth, low inflation, or do we want to maintain and continue with the traditional Icelandic cycles of boom and bust?" But the spending cuts and tax rises enacted by the government have not been popular, and levels of personal debt remain high. The centre-right is in buoyant mood. The Progressives and Independence are virtually neck-and-neck in the polls - they're likely to rule as a coalition, though it's not yet sure which party will get to lead the government. They say they've learned the lessons of the years preceding the crash, when the assets of the leading banks was nine times bigger than Iceland's entire GDP. SOUNDBITE 3 Illugi Gunnarsson, Independence Party (English, 18 secs): "I think people realise better now than they did in 2009 that what happened here in Iceland was the same as we have seen all around Europe. You see the situation in Cyprus, you see the situation in southern Europe and many other European countries, where the effects of the financial crisis have been quite severe." The days of Iceland's banking boom are probably gone for good. But the country has other strengths: tourists from around the world are drawn to its dramatic scenery, and fishing remains a huge and lucrative industry. Whoever wins control of the Althing, the world's oldest existing parliament, will have to convince Icelanders that the economic future remains bright. SHOTLIST: REYKJAVIK, Iceland, 24-26 April 2013 Source: AFPTV -WS Reykjavik skyline with Hallgrimskirkja church visible -MS Hallgrimskirkja -VAR shopping streets -Tilt of bank headquarters -CU bank logo -SOUNDBITE 1 -Shopping street with Hallgrímskirkja in background -MS sculpture in street -Pull focus from sculpture to man in street -MS people feeding seagulls at pond in central Reykjavik -SOUNDBITE 2 -Arni Pall Arnasson making speech to party supporters -People listening to speech -VAR Independence party gathering -Pan Landsbankinn office -CU Landsbankinn logo -SOUNDBITE 3 -Pan to Harpa concert hall -WS mountains across bay from Reykjavik -MS mountains across bay from Reykjavik -MS Althing, the Icelandic parliament -CU Althing, the Icelandic parliament -Tilt of Hallgrimskirkja church with sun shining
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