From Iceland — Election Fever Continues

Election Fever Continues

Published March 30, 2009

With less than a month until elections, Conservatives and Social
Democrats – who held their primaries this weekend – look towards 25
Conservative MP Bjarni Benediktsson was elected his party’s new chairman, with former Minister of Education Þórgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir as the vice chairman. The primary was not without its surprises, as former party chairman Davíð Oddsson criticized the party’s Renewal Committee, calling its platform “poorly written” and the committee members incompetent. The previous party chairman, Geir H. Haarde, apart from admitting that it had been a mistake to privatize the banks nearly 15 years ago, said the Oddsson’s remarks had been unbecoming and unfair.
Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was elected chairman of the Social Democrats in a landslide, with 97% of the vote. Reykjavík city councilman Dagur B. Eggertsson became vice chairman, and is running for a seat in parliament. The party remains committed to joining the EU, and Sigurðardóttir said it was paramount that her party and the Leftist-Greens lead the next government. The Leftist-Greens have established agreement with this principle as well, and although opposed to joining the EU, do believe the question should be put to national referendum.
The Citizen’s Movement, as per usual, stand apart from the norm, having decided that they will have no party chairman. In a statement to the media, the party said that “it was exactly this kind of leader worship that led to the deplorable conditions that rendered parliament unable to perform.”
Record turn-outs are expected on election day, with the Social Democrats and Leftist-Greens polling well enough to hold a majority government if elections were held today. The Conservatives are polling about as well as the Social Democrats, and may see an upswing, as is typical in the period immediately following the primaries. The Progressives are fast losing support, while the Liberal Party, currently holding two seats (and having recently lost two seats when two of their MPs left to join other parties) is currently not polling well enough to win a seat in parliament.

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