REYKJAVIK, March 5 (Reuters) – Icelanders are set to reject the terms for repaying Anglo-Dutch debts in a referendum on Saturday, forcing new negotiations with creditors and delaying financial aid the country needs to fix its shattered economy.
Despite the negative consequences of rejecting the deal, Icelanders are furious about what they see as overly harsh terms from Britain and the Netherlands and they are now certain they can get a much better deal.
“Some will vote ‘No’ to tell the world that Iceland won’t accept this treatment, but studies have shown more than half believe that Iceland is ethically bound to pay back the debts,” said Gudbjorg Andrea Jonsdottir, director at pollster Capacent.
Britain and the Netherlands have already offered easier repayment terms, so there is no reason for voters on the island of 320,000 to agree to the existing deal, which was drawn up late last year, on repaying about $5 billion.
But in addition to thumbing their noses at the British and the Dutch, the referendum gives Icelanders a chance to vent their anger at greedy bankers and politicians in Reykjavik who are widely blamed for bringing down the island’s economy.