Iceland’s ruling centre-right parties have lost their majority after a tight election that could usher in only the second left-of-centre government in the country’s history as an independent nation. With all votes counted after the Nordic island’s second snap poll in a year, the conservative Independence party of the scandal-plagued outgoing prime minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, was on course to remain parliament’s largest. But it lost five of of its 21 seats in the 63-member Althing, potentially paving the way for its main opponent, the Left-Green Movement headed by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, to form a left-leaning coalition with three or more other parties. The make-up of the new government, however, remains uncertain since both left- and rightwing blocs have said they deserve a chance to try to form a coalition and Iceland’s president has yet to designate a party to begin talks.
Benediktsson called the election last month after his three-party centre-right government collapsed over an alleged attempt to cover up efforts by his father to help “restore the honour” of a convicted child sex offender.
The outgoing government had been only formed 10 months ago after early elections triggered by his predecessor’s resignation. Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson stepped down amid public fury at revelations in the Panama Papers that his family had sheltered money offshore.