Iceland’s incumbent Independence party was in pole position to try to form a new government after voters chose continuity in Saturday’s elections and support for the anti-establishment Pirate party, while sharply up, fell below early expectations. The Pirates, founded four years ago by a group of activists, anarchists and former hackers, tripled their share of the vote to 14.5%, and together with an alliance of three left-of-centre parties won a total of 27 seats – five short of a majority in the country’s 63-seat parliament. The centre-right Independence party, however, won almost 30% of the vote and a total of 29 seats with its coalition partner of the past three years, the Progressive party, which was badly hit by this year’s Panama papers scandal and lost more than half its MPs. In a campaign whose early stages were dominated by public anger at Iceland’s traditional elites and a strong desire for political change, the Independence party promised to lower taxes and keep Iceland’s economic recovery on track.
Articles about voting issues in Iceland.
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.
Initial counting after polls closed in Iceland’s election put neither the ruling Independence party’s centre-right coalition nor the Pirate party’s leftist alliance in a position to secure outright victory. With roughly one-third of votes counted, support for the mainstream centre-right coalition – particularly Independence – stood at more than 40%, translating to 27 MPs in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament. The opposition alliance had around 43%, giving 29 MPs. That could leave the newly-established Viðreisn – meaning Regeneration – party in the role of kingmaker. Its share of the vote sat at around 11% in early counting. Its liberal, pro-European stance has proved popular among conservative voters seeking a change from the old parties. “We want to improve things in Iceland,” the party leader, Benedikt Johannesson, said as he cast his ballot. “We are a free trade party, a pro-western party, an open society party.” Polls published on Friday before the election showed the governing coalition of the Independence and Progressive parties on about 37% of the vote, while support for opposition parties led by the Pirates – founded barely four years ago by a group of activists, anarchists and former hackers – stood at 47%.
A party that favours direct democracy, complete government transparency, decriminalising drugs and offering asylum to Edward Snowden could form the next government in Iceland after the country goes to the polls on Saturday. Riding a wave of public anger at perceived political corruption in the wake of the 2008 financial crash and the Panama Papers scandal in April, Iceland’s Pirate party looks on course to either win or finish a close second. The radical party, founded by activists and hackers four years ago as part of an international anti-copyright movement, captured 5% of the vote in 2013 elections, winning three seats in Iceland’s 63-member parliament, the Althingi. This time around, analysts say it could win between 18 and 20 seats. This would put it in pole position to form a government at the head of a broad progressive alliance of up to five parties currently in opposition.
Investors drawn to Iceland’s high yields following the partial dismantling of capital controls are facing parliamentary elections that could produce a toxic mix of political turmoil and radicalism. Klaus Spoeri, a fund manager at Frankfurt-Trust, says that while he recently bought more Icelandic bonds because of their attractive yields of more than 5 percent, he’s now holding off. “We’re quite confident about Iceland and the turnaround,” Spoeri said. But if Saturday’s elections should “go wrong, we’ll liquidate the position.” Despite an impressive turnaround in the economy, latest surveys suggest the ruling conservative coalition of the Independence and Progressive parties stands little chance of surviving the election. An untested alliance of opposition parties has set its sights on the leverages of power. The alliance is spearheaded by the Pirate Party, a direct-democracy movement that’s been leading the polls by riding a global wave of resentment toward the establishment.
Iceland’s national elections take place on Saturday, and at present, a radical fringe party could be heading for the win. One in five Icelanders favor the Pirate Party, according to an online opinion poll run by the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Iceland, the Iceland Monitor reports. The results of the poll put the Pirates in the lead with 22.6%, ahead of the incumbent center-right Independence party by one and a half points. From its beginnings in the radical margins four years ago, to its position at the center point — and counterpoint — of mainstream Icelandic politics today, the rise of Iceland’s Pirate Party has been short and sharp.
Icelanders are casting apprehensive looks at two volcanoes this fall – a real one on the southern coast named Katla, and a metaphorical one also known as Althing or parliament in the capital – each of which has been rumbling ominously. The difference is that while Icelanders are unsure if and when Katla will blow, they know the exact date, Oct. 29, when the latter will erupt. That is the date of the next election for the 63-seat parliament. Although the election itself promises to be an orderly affair, the outcome does not, especially if the insurgent Pirate party, which is channeling the imminent explosion, has its way. For while Pirate parties are not unusual – such political groups started appearing in 2005, focused on digital rights and Internet-reliant democracy, and now exist in countries around the world – this once conservative Nordic nation is set to be the first to vote such a party into power. The Icelandic Pirate Party looks to garner just under a quarter of the vote, according to the latest Gallup poll, which would make them one of the two largest parties in the new parliament.
Iceland has elected a university historian as its president, amid public dissatisfaction with political elites that was first sparked by the country’s banking collapse six years ago. Gudni Johannesson, who had been the frontrunner in the lead-up to the vote, was confirmed on Sunday as the winner of the presidential elections. He secured 39.1 per cent of the vote, ahead of Halla Tomasdottir, a private equity executive, on 27.9 per cent. Iceland’s banking collapse in 2008 led to a plunge in trust in politicians — a mood that further deepened this spring, when the country’s prime minister resigned following revelations that he and his wife had owned an offshore company, according to the so-called Panama Papers. Mr Johannesson, who is not affiliated to any of Iceland’s political parties, on Sunday promised to bring stability and a new leadership style to the small Nordic island. He said he would be a less political president than his predecessor Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who had ruled for 20 years and caused several controversies by vetoing parliament, especially over the Icesave legal dispute with the UK and Netherlands.
Iceland’s president has refused a request from the country’s embattled prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, to dissolve parliament and call snap elections until he has had time to consult all of the country’s political parties. As the island’s political crisis deepened on Tuesday, its president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, flew back early from a US visit to sound out party representatives in parliament, where the leftwing opposition has presented a motion of no confidence in Gunnlaugsson’s centre-right coalition government. Further mass protests were planned in Reykjavik for later on Tuesday as pressure mounted on the prime minister to resign following revelations in the leaked Panama Papers that his wife owned a secretive offshore investment company with multi-million pound claims on Iceland’s failed banks.
Iceland’s government named a new prime minister and called for early elections in the autumn on Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson quit to become the first global politician brought down by the “Panama Papers” leaks. It was unclear whether the naming of Fisheries Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson to head the government or the call for early elections would satisfy the thousands of Icelanders who in street protests this week demanded the government resign immediately for early elections. Gunnlaugsson quit as prime minister on Tuesday after leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm showed his wife owned an offshore company that held millions of dollars in debt from failed Icelandic banks. The government said the decision to hold elections in autumn would give it time to follow through on one of the biggest economic policy changes in decades – the ending of capital controls introduced to rescue the economy from the 2008 financial crisis.