From Iceland — Elections 2016: Conservative Chair Meets With Other Parties

Elections 2016: Conservative Chair Meets With Other Parties

Published November 3, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Leadership of Iceland’s parliamentary parties met with Independence Party chairperson Bjarni Benediktsson today, but there is as yet no indication what Iceland’s next government will be.

RÚV reports that Bjarni has continued to meet with the leadership of different parties today. As the Independence Party won the greatest number of seats in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson gave the mandate yesterday to the conservatives to form the next ruling coalition.

As the Independence Party has 21 seats now, and six other parties have won seats in parliament, whatever the next coalition will be will have to be at least a 3-party coalition. As such, there has been considerable speculation as to what form this coalition could take, but some formations are more likely than others.

For example, a coalition comprised of the Independence Party, the centre-right Restoration Party and the centrist Bright Future would have many ideological similarities, but they would have a majority of exactly one seat. This would put such a coalition on shaky ground, as party mutinies are not uncommon in Iceland.

A coalition comprised of the Independence Party, the Restoration Party, and either the Left-Greens or the Pirates would be a considerably larger majority. However, there would be numerous platform issues to iron out to make this work.

In addition, inviting the Progressives – who lost half their seats in the election – into such a coalition would likely not be taken well by the Icelandic public.

Normally, elections are held in May, giving plenty of time for the various parties to work out their differences before announcing the formation of a new coalition. As Iceland had early elections this year, there is a considerably smaller window of time for a coalition to be formed. The Grapevine will keep readers updated on developments as they arise.

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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