The longest-serving sitting MP for the Progressive Party, Siv Friðleifsdóttir, has announced that she will not run again next spring. She denies that her decision has anything to do with the current state of the party.
Siv has been an MP for the Progressive Party for 18 years, serving as a government minister for six of those years. But with new parliamentary elections coming up this spring, Siv has announced that she will not be running again, RÚV reports.
“I have been in politics a long time,” she told reporters. “And have gone through parliamentary elections five times, so I think it’s the right time to retire.”
To many Icelanders, Siv is best remembered for her time as Minister for the Environment during the controversial Kárahnjúkar dam project, where she was often criticised for not initiating thorough enough environmental assessments of what the project would do to the Highlands.
However, since departing from the post in 2004 – and serving as Minister of Health for a year thereafter – she introduced a number of pieces of legislation pertaining to gender equality. She has as well placed a particular focus on the health of Icelanders, through proposals or bills that would make Icelanders organ donors by default, require fast food restaurants to display nutritional information, and restrict the sale of cigarettes solely to pharmacies.
“I am very proud of the work I have done, so I feel it’s fine to decide to depart from this area now,” she added. “I do this utterly satisfied. This decision has nothing to do with the state of the party. The party is on the rise, and I think it will play a key role in the next elections.”
Whether or not the Progressive Party will play a key role remains to be seen, but according to the latest Gallup poll, they have languished at around the 13% mark since at least last February. There has also been talk of party in-fighting ever since Progressive chairman Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson decided to run against one of his own MPs, Höskuldur Þórhallsson, for the first seat of the Northeast district.
Eygló Harðardóttir, the Progressive MP of the South Iceland district, announced her intentions to run for Siv’s seat in the Southwest district next spring.