From Iceland — Elections 2016: Independence Party On Top, Pirates More Than Triple

Elections 2016: Independence Party On Top, Pirates More Than Triple

Published October 30, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The Independence Party is once again the largest party in the country, but the Pirate Party went from three MPs to ten. The results of the parliamentary elections indicate that forming the next government will be challenging.

With 195,200 votes counted this morning, out of a registry of 246,508 and a voter turnout of about 65%, the results of Iceland’s parliamentary elections are as follows:

Bright Future: 7.2% (4 MPs – Currently has 6)
Progressive Party: 11.5% (8 MPs – Currently has 19)
Restoration Party: 10.5% (7 MPs – Currently has 0)
Independence Party: 29% (21 MPs – Currently has 19)
Pirate Party: 14.5% (10 MPs – Currently has 3)
Social Democrats: 5.7% (3 MPs – Currently has 9)
Left-Greens: 15.9% (10 MPs – Currently has 7)

In Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, the previous coalition of the Independence Party and the Progressive Party appears to be defeated. However, in light of ongoing talks between all opposition parties except the Restoration Party, a possible alliance of the Pirate Party, Left-Greens, Social Democrats and Bright Future would also not have a majority, if these results bore out in the final numbers.

However, a three-way centre-right coalition of the Independence Party, the Progressive Party and the Restoration Party would be able to form a majority. The Independence Party, having the largest share of votes, would be most likely to receive the mandate to form a government. Be that as it may, the chairperson of the Restoration Party, Benedikt Jóhannesson, has ruled out this morning forming such a coalition.

That said, nothing is guaranteed in Icelandic politics. Benedikt told RÚV that he considers it “realistic” that his party will be given the mandate to form the next government, saying that his party was the most successful in terms of growth. At the same time, Independence Party chairperson Bjarni Benediktsson also believes his party will get the mandate. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the chairperson of the Left-Greens, contends that the results show that the people want new parties in power.

New Pirate Party MP Smári McCarthy told RÚV that it is “unbelievably positive” that the Pirates increased their numbers as they did, more than tripling in size. At the same time, he said the voter turnout could have been better, and that the Pirates have still ruled out forming any possible coalition with the Independence Party.

Ultimately, the decision is up to President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson. As Iceland’s head of state, he has the power to grant one party the mandate to form a ruling coalition. As the last votes are still trickling in, that mandate might not be given for a few days yet.

The turnout has been the worst in Icelandic history, at about 65%.

The last Gallup poll before the elections showed the Independence Party overtaking the Pirate Party, while the Left-Greens and the Restoration Party appeared to be on their way up, as the Social Democrats and Bright Future dropped in support.

The campaign itself has been colorful, and certainly memorable, and the prospect of a Pirate Party takeover attracted the attention of the international media.

Finally, the most memorable moment from election night undoubtedly took place when Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson was being interviewed live at the Independence Party’s election offices. At that moment, a man interrupted the interview to ask the camera, “Why does no one remember the financial crash and [offshore tax shelter] Tortola? Why are you feeding the bird of prey?”, in reference to the symbol of the Independence Party, the falcon:


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