April 7, 2016 / 8:41 PM / 3 years ago

Iceland protesters call for government to quit, want immediate vote

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Icelanders, not satisfied with the departure of the prime minister and a promise to hold elections this autumn, took to the streets again on Thursday to demand the government quit over the Panama Papers leaks.

People demonstrate against Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson in Reykjavik, Iceland in this April 5, 2016 files. REUTERS/Stigtryggur Johannsson/Files

About 2,000 people showed up at parliament for another day of demonstrations, banging pots and pans and calling for immediate elections.

Iceland fell into political crisis this week after documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm linked the then Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson to an offshore company that held millions of dollars in debt from failed Icelandic banks. He stepped down on Tuesday.

The centre-right coalition tried to appease Icelanders by naming Fisheries Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson as prime minister and calling for early elections in the autumn.

But many Icelanders, who have a deep distrust in government following a 2008 banking crisis which wrecked the economy, are saying it is not enough that Gunnlaugsson step aside.

Saga Stephensen, a 33-year-old multicultural adviser who showed up at Thursday’s protest, said others should resign.

“They act like nothing happened and don’t bear responsibility and don’t apologise. I am fed up with their arrogance,” Stephensen said.

Johann Bjornsson, a 50-year-old teacher, called for elections as soon as possible.

“To appoint Sigurður Ingi as Prime Minister is no solution,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, the head of Iceland’s anti-establishment Pirate Party - which polls show would win an election if held today - filed a vote of no-confidence motion in parliament.

The motion is seen however as largely symbolic since the coalition of the Progressive and Independence parties has a solid majority in the 63-seat parliament with 38 seats.

“How are we going to reclaim our reputation if things just go back to normal?” Birgitta Jonsdottir, head of the Pirate Party, told Reuters. “We are the laughing stock in the international community because of the former PM. It’s too little and too late.”

A poll by Icelandic media outlet Visir showed this week 43 percent of those polled would cast ballots for the Pirate Party if elections were held now, a stunning victory for a group set up by opponents of copyright enforcement rules.

Writing by Mia Shanley in Stockholm; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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