From Iceland — Elections '17: Party Leaders Respond To Possible Left-Centre Government

Elections ’17: Party Leaders Respond To Possible Left-Centre Government

Published November 3, 2017

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Unity is the centrepiece of formal 4-party coalition talks, which begin today. Potential opposition parties, mostly on the right, are shoring up support.

As reported, Left-Green chair Katrín Jakobsdóttir received the mandate yesterday to form Iceland’s next government. Formal talks have now begun between her party and the Social Democrats, the Progressives and the Pirates.

Katrín emphasised to reporters that while every party will have to make some concessions in order for this coalition to work, all of these parties were on the same page when it came to the larger issues, such as education, health care, infrastructure, and improving household incomes. Logi Már Einarsson, the chair of the Social Democrats, told RÚV that he is “modestly optimistic” about formal talks, and does not believe there is any particular deadline to conclude talks, believing that they should “take a short enough time to do them quickly, and long enough time to do them well.”

Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, the chair of the Progressives, said that involving more than four parties would have complicated matters. Further, this coalition having as slim a majority as it has – one seat – compels these parties to unify around the largest issues Parliament will have to face. Pirate MP Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir was of much the same tone, saying that domestic development and stability would be the foremost points of emphasis of Iceland’s next government.

This coalition spans from the left to the centre, while the opposition – also comprised of four parties – makes up the right wing to the centre-right. Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, the chair of the centre-right Reform Party, told RÚV that her party intends to be a “different kind of opposition”, in that they will support the coalition on matters of great importance but will at the same time oppose the tax increases on high income-earners that the left has been proposing.

Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, the chair of the Centre Party and the former chair of the Progressives, expressed pessimism about the potential coalition in an interview on radio show Reykjavík siðdegis.

“I am not especially optimistic that this arrangement, with a one-seat majority, would achieve great success for society,” he said, speculating that no one would be willing to rock the boat and take difficult decisions because of the thin majority they would hold.

Formal coalition talks are expected to conclude in the coming days. Whether these four parties will be able to form a joint platform still remains to be seen, but for the time being party chairs remain optimistic.

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