Iceland looked likely to steer away from a Pirate takeover Sunday, as voters favored the incumbent Independence Party over the upstart band of buccaneers advocating direct democracy and Internet freedom. With roughly half of the votes counted from Saturday’s election, the Independence Party had about 30 percent of the ballots and the Pirate Party about 14 percent, putting them in third place behind the Left-Green movement. It’s a worse result for the Pirates than some polls suggested, and a better performance than predicted for the Independents, who have governed in coalition since 2013. Coalition governments are the norm in Iceland’s multiparty system. It was not immediately clear whether the Independents would be able to assemble a coalition with other centrist and right-wing parties — or whether the Pirates and other opposition forces would get the numbers to govern.
Independence Party leader Bjarni Benediktsson said that given the party’s strong showing, it would be “extremely hard to not include us” in the next government.
In the latest addition to a string of electoral impossibilities that suddenly became reality – including Britain voting for Brexit and Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination – the world may soon add a Pirate Party-led government in Europe. Editor’s note: A previous version of this video misspelled the name of Birgitta Jónsdóttir, the leader of the Pirate Party. (Griff Witte, Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)
Saturday’s election was held amid widespread public discontent with Iceland’s traditional elites, with debate focusing on the economy and voters’ desire for political reform.
It was called after then-Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíd Gunnlaugsson resigned in April during public protests over his offshore holdings, revealed in the Panama Papers leak.