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Geir Haarde

Geir Haarde
Geir in 2005
Icelandic Ambassador to the United States
In office
23 February 2015 – 1 July 2019
PresidentÓlafur Ragnar Grímsson
Guðni Th. Jóhannesson
Prime MinisterSigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson
Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson
Bjarni Benediktsson
Katrin Jakobsdottir
Preceded byGuðmundur Árni Stefánsson
Succeeded byBergdís Ellertsdóttir
23rd Prime Minister of Iceland
In office
15 June 2006 – 1 February 2009
PresidentÓlafur Ragnar Grímsson
Preceded byHalldór Ásgrímsson
Succeeded byJóhanna Sigurðardóttir
President of the Nordic Council
In office
1 January 1995 – 31 December 1995
Preceded byPer Olof Håkansson
Succeeded byKnud Enggaard
Leader of the Independence Party
In office
16 October 2005 – 29 March 2009
Preceded byDavíð Oddsson
Succeeded byBjarni Benediktsson
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
27 September 2005 – 15 June 2006
Prime MinisterHalldor Asgrimsson
Preceded byDavíð Oddsson
Succeeded byValgerður Sverrisdóttir
Minister of Finance
In office
16 September 1998 – 27 September 2005
Prime MinisterDavíð Oddsson
Halldor Asgrimsson
Preceded byFriðrik Sophusson
Succeeded byÁrni M. Mathiesen
Personal details
Geir Hilmar Haarde

(1951-04-08) 8 April 1951 (age 72)
Reykjavík, Iceland
Political partyIndependence Party
Spouse(s)Patricia Angelina (Divorced)
Inga Jóna Þórðardóttir
Alma materBrandeis University
Johns Hopkins University
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Geir Hilmar Haarde (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈceːir̥ ˈhɪlmar̥ ˈhɔrtɛ]; born 8 April 1951[1]) is an Icelandic politician, who served as prime minister of Iceland from 15 June 2006[2] to 1 February 2009 and as president of the Nordic Council in 1995. Geir was chairman of the Icelandic Independence Party from 2005 to 2009. Since 23 February 2015 he has served as the ambassador of Iceland to the United States and several Latin American countries.[3]

Geir initially led a coalition between his party and the Progressive Party. After the 2007 parliamentary election, in which the Independence Party increased its share of the vote, Geir renewed his term as prime minister, leading a coalition between his party and the Social Democratic Alliance. That coalition resigned in January 2009 after widespread protests following an economic collapse in October 2008. In September 2010, Geir became the first Icelandic minister to be indicted for misconduct in office, and stood trial before the Landsdómur, a special court for such cases. He was convicted on one count, but acquitted of the most serious violations.

Life and career

Geir was born in the Icelandic capital Reykjavík, to Tomas Haarde, a Norwegian from Rogaland, and an Icelandic mother. He is the brother of Bernhard Haarde, former leader of the Icelandic branch of the World Union of National Socialists.[4] He received his bachelor's degree in the United States at Brandeis University as a Wien Scholar, graduating with a degree in economics, then went on to earn two Master's degrees – in international relations from the School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University and in economics from the University of Minnesota.

Prior to entering the Althing (the Icelandic Parliament), Geir was an economist at the Central Bank of Iceland from 1977 to 1983 and was a political adviser to the Icelandic Minister of Finance from 1983 to 1987.[2] He was a member of the Althing for 22 years, 1987–2009. Geir was Chairman of the Independence Party Parliamentary Group from 1991 to 1998[1][2] and a member of the Alþing's Foreign Affairs Committee from 1991 to 1998;[1] he was Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee from 1995 to 1998.[1][2] He served as Minister of Finance from April 1998 to September 2005 and then as Minister for Foreign Affairs from September 2005 to June 2006. He was elected Chairman of the Independence Party in an uncontested election in October 2005, following the departure of Davíð Oddsson.

Valgerður Sverrisdóttir, Geir Haarde, Donald Rumsfeld and Björn Bjarnason at the Pentagon in October, 2006

Following the announcement of Halldór Ásgrímsson's resignation as Prime Minister on 5 June 2006,[5] Geir succeeded him as Prime Minister on 15 June.[2]

On 23 January 2009, Geir announced that due to health reasons (malignant oesophageal tumour), he would step down as chairman of the Independence Party at the next party congress on 26–29 March 2009.[6] On the same day, he announced that an early general election would be held on 9 May 2009, in which he would not be a candidate.

Icelandic financial crisis

The end of Geir's tenure as prime minister was marked by the dramatic financial crisis which engulfed Iceland from October 2008. In less than a week, the country's three major commercial banks (Glitnir, Landsbanki and Kaupthing) all had to be taken over by the government as they were unable to roll over their loans.

On 26 January 2009, Geir announced that he and the Social Democrats would not continue in the coalition government.[7] He was replaced by Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir from the Social Democratic Alliance, formerly minister of Social Affairs and Social Security, on 1 February 2009.

Special tribunal

Geir was strongly criticised in the April 2010 report of the Special Investigative Commission into the financial collapse, being accused of "negligence" along with three other ministers of his government.[8][9]

On 28 September 2010, Iceland's parliament, Althing, voted 33–30 to indict Geir, but not the other ministers, on charges of negligence in office at a session.[10] He was to stand trial before the Landsdómur, a special tribunal to hear cases alleging misconduct in government office: it was the first time Landsdómur has convened since it was established in the 1905 Constitution.[11]

On 3 October 2011, in response to a motion by the defence team to dismiss the case, Landsdómur voted to drop the two first charges against Geir Haarde, concerning "gross negligence" and "failure to have the financial risks assessed," but to continue with the case based on three remaining and lesser charges.[12]

At its 40th national convention on 17–20 November 2011, the Independence Party concluded that "accusations against Geir H. Haarde, the former leader of the Independence Party and former Prime Minister, constituted an abhorrent political trial. The convention declared its unequivocal support for Mr. Haarde while noting the serious precedent the parliament had set with its decision to prosecute."[13][14]

The trial began in Reykjavík on 5 March 2012.[15] Geir Haarde was found guilty on one of four charges on 23 April 2012, for not addressing the problems that Icelandic banks were facing or their potential consequences for Iceland's economy at cabinet meetings.[16][17] Due to his age, no previous criminal record and the acquittal of the most serious charges, Haarde was not sentenced in the case, and the Icelandic State paid his legal expenses.[18] Haarde decided, as a matter of principle, to refer the whole case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg; in November 2017, the court ruled against him.[19]

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c d Geir H. Haarde, Secretariat of Althingi, retrieved 29 January 2009
  2. ^ a b c d e Prime Minister of Iceland Mr. Geir H. Haarde, Prime Minister's Office, retrieved 29 January 2009
  3. ^ "Skrá yfir fulltrúa Íslands hjá erlendum ríkjum frá upphafi (Icelandic Representatives to other States)" (in Icelandic). Utanríkisráðuneytið (Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs). Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  4. ^ "Troubled Viking". POLITICO. 5 November 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  5. ^ "Icelandic prime minister resigns", BBC News, 6 June 2006
  6. ^ Kosningar 9. maí og Geir hættir, RÚV, 23 January 2009, archived from the original on 20 March 2009, retrieved 23 January 2009
  7. ^ Prime Minister Formally Tenders Government's Resignation, Prime Minister's Office, 26 January 2009
  8. ^ "Crisis Report: Icelandic Ministers Were Negligent", Iceland Review, 14 April 2010, archived from the original on 3 October 2010, retrieved 28 September 2010.
  9. ^ Helgason, Gudjon; Dodds, Paisley (28 September 2010). "Iceland Ex-PM Faces Possible Charges in Meltdown". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  10. ^ "Iceland's Former PM Taken to Court". Iceland Review Online. 28 September 2010. Archived from the original on 25 March 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  11. ^ "Islands tidligere statsminister stilles for riksrett". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). Oslo, Norway. NTB. 28 September 2010. Archived from the original on 1 October 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  12. ^ "Two charges dropped (in Icelandic)". 3 October 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  13. ^ "Draft political resolution of the 40th national convention of the Independence Party (in Icelandic)" (PDF). 20 November 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  14. ^ "Abhorrent political trial (in Icelandic)". 19 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  15. ^ Trial of Iceland ex-PM Haarde over 2008 crisis begins, BBC News, 5 March 2012
  16. ^ Bragadóttir, Ragnheiður (2017). "Criminal Law and the Financial Crisis: The Proceedings Against Iceland's Former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde". Criminal Liability of Political Decision-Makers. Springer, Cham. pp. 357–368. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-52051-3_22. ISBN 978-3-319-52050-6.
  17. ^ National Public Radio 23 April 2012 (Broken link)
  18. ^ Iceland ex-PM Haarde 'partly' guilty over 2008 crisis, BBC News, 23 April 2012
  19. ^ Ćirić, Jelena (23 November 2017). "Breaking: Former Prime Minister Loses Case". Iceland Review. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
Political offices Preceded byFriðrik Sophusson Minister of Finance 1998–2005 Succeeded byÁrni Mathiesen Preceded byDavíð Oddsson Minister for Foreign Affairs 2005–2006 Succeeded byValgerður Sverrisdóttir Preceded byHalldór Ásgrímsson Prime Minister of Iceland 2006–2009 Succeeded byJóhanna Sigurðardóttir Party political offices Preceded byDavíð Oddsson Leader of the Independence Party 2005–2009 Succeeded byBjarni Benediktsson
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Geir Haarde
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