Iceland on Saturday voted against a referendum to repay funds loaned to them by the British and the Dutch when Icelandic banks collapsed in 2008. The measure was triggered when Iceland’s president refused in March to sign off on a repayment plan agreed upon with Britain and the Netherlands.
Reuters reported that Icelanders were angry that taxpayers were left holding the bag for what they saw as bankers’ irresponsibility. Nearly 60% rejected the measure in the vote, despite its negative implications for the nation’s future. A 28-year-old barista, Thorgerdun Asgeirsdottir, was quoted in the report saying, "I know this will probably hurt us internationally, but it is worth taking a stance," after casting a negative vote.
The debt of $5 billion was run up when Britain and the Netherlands made good on deposits for their citizens on high-interest “Icesave” online accounts owned by Landsbankl, which was one of three banks that collapsed in 2008. This is the second time a repayment plan has been rejected by Iceland, and the current government says it will not resign in the wake of the “no” vote. Instead it said in a statement, "The government will emphasize maintaining economic and financial stability in Iceland and continuing along the path of reconstruction which it began following the economic collapse of 2008."