Published January 9, 2017
Iceland’s new government will be comprised of the Independence Party, the Reform Party, and Bright Future. Independence Party chairperson Bjarni Benediktsson will most likely be Prime Minister, but no other ministerial positions have been decided.
RÚV reports that the joint platform and ministerial positions will be announced tomorrow, but sources say the Independence Party will likely get five ministerial seats, as well as the Parliamentary President position, while the Reform Party will have three ministerial posts and Bright Future will get two.
The President had originally given the mandate to form a coalition to the Independence Party. Coalition talks between the Independence Party, the Reform Party and Bright Future broke down last November, as they could not reach an agreement on a common platform; most notably, regarding the management of fisheries and the question of a public referendum on accession to the European Union.
Since then, Left-Green chair Katrín Jakobsdóttir attempted to form a new coalition comprised of her party, the Pirate Party, the Social Democrats, the Reform Party and Bright Future. However, those talks broke down, as the Left-Greens and the Reform Party were having difficulties finding common ground on a number of issues, amongst them fishing management and some proposed tax increases on high income earners.
The Pirates also briefly had a mandate last month, but returned it ten days later.
As such, Iceland’s next government will be decidedly right wing: both the Independence Party and the Reform Party are conservative, while Bright Future is centrist.
Also of important note: this coalition will have a majority of exactly one seat. This will make passing legislation without complete concordance within the coalition impossible, and does give the opposition considerable power. Pirate Party captain Birgitta Jónsdóttir has said already that she will put forward a vote of no confidence once the new government comes together, and many more are calling for Bright Future to break from this coalition.
A significant part of the calls for dissolution revolve around recent contentions made by Bjarni, who is currently Minister of Finance, that he did not see a report on Icelanders who keep money offshore until after parliament was dissolved on October 13. This turned out to be untrue; the ministry did, in fact, receive it about a month earlier. Bjarni has since apologised for speaking untruthfully, saying that he was “inexact about the timeline”, adding that he does not think it would have influenced the results had the report come out before elections.