From Iceland — Social Dem Chair Resigns, New Coalition Still Unknown

Social Dem Chair Resigns, New Coalition Still Unknown

Published October 31, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Social Democrat chairperson Oddný Harðardóttir released a statement just moments ago tendering her resignation from her position in the wake of a very poor showing in last Saturday’s parliamentary election. Meanwhile, it is still too soon to say what coalition Iceland might get, but a minority government may be one possibility.

In a statement to the press, Oddný acknowledged that she became chairperson only five months before the elections, and in that time was not able to turn around her party’s declining numbers. In the results of last Saturday’s election, her party went from 9 MPs to 3.

“Decisive electoral results call for a decisive response,” she wrote in part. “As such, I have decided to step aside as chairperson of the Social Democrats.” In her place, party vice chair and newly elected MP Logi Einarsson will be taking over.

As reported, there are still numerous configurations Iceland’s next ruling coalition could take. Elections in Iceland are not as simple as “party with most seats = party that will form next coalition”. Other metrics include which parties gained the most seats, and whether the left or the right got the lion’s share of support.

As such, one possibility is the formation of a minority government consisting of the Pirate Party, the Left-Greens and the Restoration Party, with Bright Future not necessarily within this coalition but rather “defending” it with their seats. Vísir reports that both the Left-Greens and the Pirates have publicly supported the idea today, and the Restoration Party aren’t ruling it out at least.

Leadership of the different parliamentary parties met with President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson today, to plead their cases for why their party should be given the mandate to form the next coalition. As the head of state, that decision is ultimately in the President’s hands.

The turnout has been the worst in Icelandic history, at 79.2%.

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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