The 2016 Icelandic national election, which took place yesterday, has produced a difficult position in terms of forming a new government. The conservative Independent Party, led by Bjarni Benediktsson who was named in the Panama Papers scandal, got 29% of the vote and 21 MPs out of a total of 63. But neither of the next most popular parties, the Left-Greens and the Pirates, want to work with the IP. They both got 10 MPS. The foreign press have been particularly interested in the Pirate Party as until the last two weeks or so it had been leading opinion polls (if that means anything) for the last 18 months. But as Icelanders know, much of the Pirate’s support comes from young people, and young people are less likely to vote than others. Still, the Pirates have managed to go from 3 to 10 MPs, which is very good.
For two weeks prior to the elections, the Pirates had also been talking with the three other Opposition parties about having a joint plan for working together after the election.
The new government will be made up of seven different parties, one of which – Vidreisn – is new and is essentially a splinter group of the IP except that Vidreisn is pro the EU. It did well, with 7 MPs in, but has been reluctant to become involved with the Pirate coalition. Without Vidreisn, the Pirate coalition is doomed to failure, as the Social Democrats – the party that pushed for Iceland’s accession to the EU – did abysmally, with only 3 MPs.
From what our most recent Prime Minister from the Progressive Party said this morning, before he handed in his resignation to the President, it seems that his party is in the midst of internal strife so is unlikely to be in a position of being capable of running the country, even if asked. The situation between Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who was PM until early April when he left because of Wintris, and Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, who SDG appointed as his replacement, has been very strained since SDG lost his position to SIJ as Chair of the Progressive Party a few weeks ago.
Whatever happens, time is of the essence because a new Budget has to be agreed before the end of the year.
The new Althingi will be made up of 30 women and 33 men; never before has the percentage of women been so high at the start of the electoral term. And of the 63 members, 31 will be new.
Reykjavik has been awash with foreign journalists because of the elections, but if anyone wants and update as the situation develops, let me know. I promise I won’t write misleading news, like AFP did last night after misinterpreting a figure at the top of the website of the State Radio and Broadcasting Service and calling it Breaking News.