Recordings at a local bar reveal members of Icelandic parliament making misogynistic and homophobic comments, deriding the MeToo movement and discussing quid pro quo deals, Stundin reveals.
The revelations have shocked Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, in the week of nationwide festivities celebrating 100 years of Icelandic sovereignty. Calls for the resignation of the MPs have already been made, with female MPs leading the charge.
Four MPs from Centre Party (Miðflokkurinn), including former prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and former foreign minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, were at a bar across the street from the Alþingi building on Tuesday night November 20th.
They met with two MPs from People's Party (Flokkur fólksins) and tried to convince them to break ranks in exchange for lucrative political favors. The six MPs go on to make misogynistic comments about female MPs, with one calling People's Party leader Inga Sæland "a raving mad cunt". They also discuss several other female politicians on the basis of their attractiveness, intelligence and mental stability.
On the recording, Mr Sveinsson and fellow party member Bergþór Ólason talk about what they call rape attempts by a female MP on separate occasions. The female MP has denied the allegations and has received an apology from Mr Sveinsson, who retracts the statements he made on tape.
After the discussion, they make jokes and laugh about the MeToo movement.
Mr Gunnlaugsson, Mr Sveinsson and Mr Ólason go on to discuss the education minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir's sex appeal and plotting revenge against her.
"Who the fuck is that bitch?" and "Fuck that bitch" they exclaim.
Champions of the He for She movement
In the 2016 Panama Papers leak, Mr Gunnlaugsson, then prime minister and chairman of Progressive Party (Framsóknarflokkurinn), was revealed to have concealed millions of dollars' worth of family assets in an offshore company. He subsequently resigned as prime minister, left the party, formed Centre Party and was re-elected to parliament.
Mr Gunnlaugsson and Mr Sveinsson have both championed women's issues in the past. In 2015, Financial Times selected Mr Gunnlaugsson as one of the world's top feminist men for supporting the UN's He for She campaign. Mr Sveinsson was also a vocal supporter of the campaign, addressing the UN on gender equality and receiving praise from campaign leader and actress Emma Watson.
Mr Sveinsson was also the architect for the UN Barbershop Conference in 2015, whose aim was to "promote change in how men and boys think and talk about women’s empowerment and gender equality” and "to support non-sexist male attitudes and behaviours between men.”
Political favors and quid pro quo
The recordings also reveal a plot by Mr Sveinsson, then foreign minister, to appoint disgraced prime minister Geir Haarde and Left-Green MP Árni Þór Sigurðsson as ambassadors. The latter appointment, he says on tape, was made to distract from the former.
He also says he expects the favor to appoint Mr Haarde will be repaid in the future by current finance minister Bjarni Benediktsson, with Mr Sveinsson hoping to be appointed ambassador himself one day. Mr Benediktsson and Mr Haarde are both members of the Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn).
In the process of explaining this, Mr Sveinsson also cracks a homophobic joke about a local pop star.
Mr Sveinsson has apologized for some of the comments, but has said that he will not resign as member of parliament. The four Centre Party MPs, Mr Sveinsson, Mr Gunnlaugsson, Mr Ólason and Anna Kolbrún Árnadóttir, the only woman present, have issued a joint apology for their remarks.