From Iceland — Elections '17: Possibility Of Leftist Gov't Decreases; New Women's Party In The Works

Elections ’17: Possibility Of Leftist Gov’t Decreases; New Women’s Party In The Works

Published October 31, 2017

Now that President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has spoken to the chairs of every party that won seats in last Saturday’s elections, the next step is forming a coalition, and it’s on the President to decide who gets the mandate to do so. As it stands now, the likelihood of a leftist government is decreasing, due to the key position the Progressive Party finds itself in. Meanwhile, the decrease in the number of women parliamentarians has prompted the possible creation of a new Women’s Party.

As reported, the results of last Saturday’s elections have put eight parties in Parliament, two of them new, and the distribution of Parliament’s 63 seats between them has ruled out the possibility of a two-party coalition.

The chance of a three-party coalition of the Independence Party, the Left-Greens and the Social Democrats appears to be off the table at the time of this writing. While Left-Green chair Katrín Jakobsdóttir was hopeful yesterday for a coalition comprised of her party, the Social Democrats, the Progressives and the Pirates, Vísir reports that this possibility appears to be shrinking. This is based primarily on the words of Progressive chair Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, who told reporters yesterday that he hopes for a government spanning from the right to the left.

This would mean a three-party coalition of the Independence Party, the Progressives, and either the Social Democrats or the Left-Greens. The Centre Party, led by former Progressive Chair Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, while having as many seats as the Social Democrats, would be an unlikely choice, as Sigmundur and his former party are not on the best of terms. It is also unclear how willing the Left-Greens would be to form a government with both the Independence Party and the Progressives. A clearer picture should form in the coming days or weeks.

Meanwhile, other changes are afoot. In particular, the possibility of a new Women’s Party.

Vísir reports that about 120 women met at Hótel Saga last evening to discuss the potential party. The idea was a direct result of the elections, which saw the number of women in parliament decrease by six. The number of women in the Icelandic parliament has not been this low since 2007, and they now comprise only 23 seats.

In a statement the group posted on Facebook, they point out that violence against women was a founding reason for the dissolution of the previous government. Here they refer to the scandal that broke when it came to light that the father of former Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson has signed a letter of recommendation for a convicted paedophile to have his civil standing restored.

“We have had enough of the fact that women’s voices go unheard,” the statement reads in part. “And that we are systemically silenced. We are here, and we will take action. Armed with radical sentimentality and sentimental radicalism. Down with the patriarchy!”

Iceland has formed Women’s Parties in the 80s, and they won seats in the municipal elections for Reykjavík and Akureyri.

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