Published August 23, 2016
Over a quarter of Iceland’s members of parliament so far have announced they will not be running in this October’s parliamentary elections, and recent opinion polls indicate a very different parliament after the ballots have been cast.
The Icelandic government is currently led by a coalition of the Progressive Party and the Independence Party, each of whom have 19 seats in the 63-seat parliament. Within the opposition, the Social Democrats have nine seats; the Left-Greens have seven seats; Bright Future has six seats; and the Pirate Party has three seats. RÚV reports that this is likely to change dramatically after elections are held on October 29.
So far, 18 MPs, comprising 28% of parliament, have announced that they will not be running for another term. The largest share of these vacated seats come from the ruling coalition, with seven Progressives and five Independence Party MPs leaving their office. An additional three MPs from Bright Future; two from the Social Democrats; and one each from the Left-Greens and the Pirates will not be running again, either.
In addition to these 18 new faces, levels of parliamentary party support have changed significantly since the 2013 elections.
As can be seen, the Pirate Party has been at the far top of the polls since March 2015, and although their level of support has fallen precipitously since March 2016, the party is trending upwards once again. At the same time, the Independence Party have held fast as the second-largest party, while the Progressives have been in virtual free-fall, and Bright Future might not have any seats at all after elections are held. Viðreisn is a relative new-comer, having only been established this year, but have been experiencing a steady increase in support.
In fact, Gallup polls indicate that if elections were held today, parliament’s composition would be more like the following:
Progressive Party: 6 seats
Independence Party: 18 seats
Social Democrats: 5 seats
Left-Greens: 11 seats
Bright Future: 0 seats
Pirate Party: 17 seats
Viðreisn: 6 seats
With this composition, there would be only one possible two-party ruling coalition if elections were held today: the Independence Party and the Pirate Party. This depends, however, on these two parties being able to establish a joint platform, which may prove difficult – these two parties have a number of policies that are at odds with one another. Another snag in this idea is that the Pirates ruled out aligning with the Independence Party last July.
The only other option would be a three-party coalition which, while unlikely, could take a number of forms.
Regardless of the final form the ruling coalition takes, there will likely be about 30 new members of parliament when elections are concluded.