From Iceland — Presidential Election Heats Up

Presidential Election Heats Up

Published May 14, 2012

Sitting president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has gone on the offensive in this year’s presidential campaign, accusing his opponent – Þóra Arnórsdóttir – of being “dangerous” for the country and the media of showing her preference of treatment over him.
As reported, Þóra has been polling well against Ólafur, with surveys showing her the likely candidate to win. She has recently taken a pause in her campaign to give birth to her child, and Ólafur has gone on the offensive.
Speaking as a guest on the radio show Sprengisandi, the president said that Þóra intends to be a “silent” president who follows the will of the government, in particular mentioning foreign policy when it comes to Iceland’s admission into the European Union. While it is the government platform to join the EU – and the accession process is currently well underway – the president has publicly expressed serious reservations about joining the organisation.
He told listeners that Þóra’s approach to the presidency was “extremely dangerous and completely wrong”, saying that the sort of president the country needs is one who is opinionated and unafraid to disagree with the government.
Ólafur then turned his attention to the media, calling newspaper DV the “daily addition” for Þóra’s campaign, and saying that RÚV has gone out of its way to promote her campaign. Þóra is a broadcast journalist working for RÚV.
Journalists at DV took exception to the president’s remarks, and asked him to provide examples of how the paper has been campaigning for Þóra, pointing out that DV had invited him and Dorrit to be interviewed at length for their weekend edition. Ólafur responded that the paper’s preferences were “obvious”, saying “If you can’t see it yourself then I can’t help you.”
Political commentator Egill Helgason has noted the change in tone, saying that he is the first president to take a public position on foreign policy that is not in agreement with the government, and that his recent pointed criticisms are the result of realising that he will have to fight to stay in power.

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