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Credit crisis claims first political casualty

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No surprise that Iceland - a country teetering on the edge of bankruptcy - is where the first casualty is located. I only wish the people who promoted the model of easy credit in the US will meet the same political fate. Even now the Republicans are trying to spin the recession as the fault of minority lending, as if they haven't spewed enough racial politics already. Maybe those people can look at the global economy (gasp! the world!) and see how real estate saw comparable bubbles in other countries such as Spain, UK, Ireland and elsewhere. Suddenly the "minorities caused this" doesn't work, but who wants to block a good racist rant when that keeps the wingnuts happy?

Iceland's embattled Prime Minister Geir Haarde may have become the first political casualty of the global credit crisis, announcing his resignation yesterday, and clearing the way for elections in May. Illness was the official reason for Mr Haarde's decision to quit, but few in the capital Reykjavik were in any doubt that his departure was linked to a week of intense and violent public protests at once prosperous Iceland's economic implosion.

Since October's financial earthquake Icelanders have vented their frustration, anger and despair in peaceful weekly protests. But demonstrations turned violent on Thursday, leading to 22 arrests and the worst civilian unrest since Iceland joined Nato in 1949.

The tensions prompted the government's first admission since October that Iceland needs a change of leadership if it is to rebuild its fractured economy and overhaul its discredited political culture, viewed by many Icelanders as corrupt and nepotistic.

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