At a press conference held at Bessastaðir just moments ago, President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson announced that he will run for the office again, after already serving 20 years in office.
The President cited the “thousands who have protested” in front of parliament, as well as the coming early elections, saying that “untold numbers” of people have encouraged him to run again. While he said he understands the sentiment that someone new take the office, Ólafur said the country needs someone with “experience” to lead the country “in this time of instability.”
While the President told Monocle magazine in 2014 that he will not run this year, and repeated this sentiment during his New Year’s address, this would not be the first time he changed his mind on the subject. The President said four years ago that he might not even finish his current term, but decide instead to turn to other matters before his four years are up.
Additionally, the president insinuated in January 2012 that he probably would not run for the current term he is now serving. He said at the time that, in choosing not to run, he would have “freedom to express my ideas and see to issues that are dear to me, and can also take part in the development of economics, science, research and job creation.”
However, the president did enjoy high levels of popular support, and told reporters in March 2012 that a petition of 30,000 signatures calling for him to run again changed his mind. That is similar to the case today as well – a new poll from Market and Media Research shows he is the second most trusted political leader in Iceland, second only to Left-Green chairperson Katrín Jakobsdóttir.
The President’s announcement also comes just days after author Andri Snær Magnússon announced he is running for President, and there has been much open speculation that Andri Snær would have a good chance of winning the office.
Presidential elections will be held this coming June 25. If the President wins, Iceland will move up the list of countries with the longest-serving heads of state, and the country currently sits at 17th place.