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.
He told the Financial Times that his lack of a political background meant he would not take sides. “I ran on the agenda of being outside political debates and disputes, rather than stepping into debates and controversy. I will emphasise the need for compassion and emphasise how important it is for us as a small nation to stick together,” he said.
Mr Grimsson, who had been in power for longer than any other European leader apart from Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, was a controversial figure who cheered on Iceland’s businessmen and financiers before the crash. “The result means a change. The outgoing president has been in office for 20 years and is in his seventies. I’m 48 today and will be Iceland’s youngest president. But the office of president of Iceland is not as political as in France or the US. Nothing dramatic will happen in the weeks, months and years to come, I should hope,” Mr Johannesson said.
Full Article: Iceland elects university historian as president – FT.com.