Contrary to what his partner in the ruling coalition has said, Minister of Finance and Independence Party chairperson Bjarni Benediktsson spoke today of early elections in no uncertain terms.
RÚV reports that Bjarni arrived at Bessastaðir, the residency of the President, today on the occasion of outgoing President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson’s last official day in office. Reporters again asked when early parliamentary elections will be held – an event that, while promised, still has no exact date.
“When [the Progressives and the Independence Party] renewed our partnership there were changes made to the government, and at the same time we offered that we intended to conclude certain legislative matters and then hold elections,” Bjarni told reporters. “I don’t see anything that has changed in that regard, and there is nothing in itself that gets in the way of us holding elections in late October, which is the date that has often been mentioned.”
This statement completely contradicts statements made by Progressive Party chairperson Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson on the matter, who said, “It is naturally out of the question for the government to nail down some exact date while we don’t know where matters are going,” adding that there may be “elections before the end of the year”.
When asked if there was any doubt in Bjarni’s mind about late-October elections, he responded, “I don’t know how many times I need to answer this question before people hear what I’m saying. It’s like this: the coalition was renewed under these conditions and those conditions have not changed.”
While Progressive MPs have grumbled about early elections, with some suggesting that voting only be held as scheduled, in spring 2017, many MPs of the Independence Party are of a whole other mind.
Parliamentary President Einar K. Guðfinnsson told Vísir there was no doubt that there will be elections this autumn. Numerous members of the Independence Party were of the same position, with some MPs speculating that they could happen anywhere from mid-October to early November, but will happen regardless. Independence Party MP Ragnheiður Ríkharðsdóttir even went so far as to say it does not matter what Sigmundur says on the matter.
It should be noted that, according to the latest polls, the Independence Party is currently polling just barely behind the Pirates, making them the second largest party in the country, while the Progressives have been languishing in the single digits for months now.