Two MPs Violated Code of Conduct at Klaustur Bar

Vala Hafstað

The Ethics Committee of Alþingi has concluded that two members of parliament for the Center Party, Bergþór Ólason and former Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, violated the Code of Conduct for Members of the Alþingi in their remarks about several women, made at Klaustur bar, Reykjavík, on November 20, last year, Morgunblaðið reports.

Their conversation with four other MPs at the bar was recorded without their knowledge and made public. Disparaging remarks made during the conversation caused public outrage and a long-lasting debate.

The Ethics Committee concludes that the other four MPs, who participated in the conversation – Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Anna Kolbrún Árnadóttir, MPs for the Center Party, and Karl Gauti Hjaltason and Ólafur Ísleifsson, MPs for the People’s Party, who have since joined the Center Party – did not violate the Code of Conduct for Members of the Alþingi.

An interim Speakers’ Committee of Alþingi will discuss the matter this morning. Its members are Þóra Árnadóttir, MP for the Left-Green Movement, and Haraldur Benediktsson, MP for the Progressive Party.

With their remarks, Bergþór and Gunnar Bragi were deemed to have violated the part of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Alþingi stating that as publicly elected officials, MPs must “in their work strive to create a healthy work environment, within and outside parliament and wherever they work, where any kind of sexual or gender-related harassment, bullying, or other disparaging conduct is rejected.”

The rules furthermore state that MPs must not disparage Alþingi or hurt its image through their conduct.

The Ethics Committee looked specifically at Bergþór’s remarks about the following women: Inga Sæland, leader of the People’s Party, Vestmannaeyjar Mayor Íris Róbertsdóttir, MP Albertína Friðbjörg Elíasdóttir and Education Minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir.  Likewise, the committee looked at Gunnar Bragi’s remarks about  MP Albertína Friðbjörg Elíasdóttir, Education Minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, and swimmer Ragnheiður Runólfsdóttir.  

Instead of analyzing those remarks individually, the committee states that Bergþór and Gunnar’s remarks about the women “are all of the same nature. They are indecent and contain disrespect regarding the sexuality of the women in question. The Ethics Committee believes they are furthermore made to disparage Alþingi and hurt its image, in addition to failing to show Alþingi, its position and work, respect.”

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