Former Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson is now also the former chairperson of the Progressive Party, as party primary voting yesterday unseated him. Current Prime Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson is now the new chairperson of the party.
Stundin reports that the voting was fairly close. Of 703 ballots cast, Sigmundur received 329; Sigurður received 370; Minister of Foreign Affairs Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir received three, and one ballot was nullified. Sigmundur did not receive the results well, walking abruptly out of the primaries without talking to the press.
The primaries themselves were not without controversy. Of particular contention was the fact that while Sigmundur was granted a whole hour to deliver his speech to the party, Sigurður was only granted 15 minutes. Furthermore, staff of Háskólabíó, where the primaries took place, told reporters they were instructed to only livestream Sigmundur’s speech; not Sigurður’s, despite assertions from Sigmundur’s staff that Sigurður’s lack of a livestream was due to “technical issues”.
In the wake of the results, a number of Progressive Party candidates have withdrawn their candidacies, which could mean the party may need to redo and revise its candidate list for a few districts.
Sigmundur’s fall from grace has been fairly steady this year. Last April, he resigned as Prime Minister in light of revelations from the Panama Papers leak. Following his resignation, Sigurður – who was Minister of Agriculture – took the Prime Minister’s seat, but Sigmundur remained on as Progresive chair and a regular MP.
Parliamentary elections will be held on October 29.