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Elections ’17: Iceland’s Next Government Taking Shape Amidst Uncertainty

Elections ’17: Iceland’s Next Government Taking Shape Amidst Uncertainty

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Art Bicnick/SEPPO SAMULI

Published November 17, 2017

As the three parties who may form Iceland’s next government try to hammer out a joint platform, it is still unclear who the next Prime Minister will be. Source have reported on some points of emphasis in these talks, while dissatisfaction with the coalition possibility does not appear to be dissipating.

As reported, the Left-Greens, the Independence Party and the Progressive Party are currently holding formal coalition talks to form Iceland’s next government. While this 3-party government would have a solid majority, comprising 35 seats of Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, creating a joint platform and even deciding who gets what ministry will be a daunting task. In particular, the Left-Greens and the Independence Party are nearly polar opposites on the political spectrum.

Vísir reports that it has not been decided who will even be Iceland’s next Prime Minister. While it has been assumed that Left-Green chair Katrín Jakobsdóttir will take that position, Independence Party chair Bjarni Benediktsson told reporters that if his party does not get the Prime Minister seat, then he considers it “natural” that they would get the lion’s share of other ministries. Further, it is very likely that the next government will increase the current number of ministries; in particular, that the Ministry of Finance will be divided into two distinct sectors.

Other points of contention include taxation. Sources close to Fréttablaðið say that the idea is on the table to lower taxes for Iceland’s lowest income-earners, while increasing taxes on businesses, although no exact figures have been put forward. There is also the question of climate change, as the Left-Greens placed great emphasis on this issue during the brief campaign season, and the party would in fact like to go further than the Paris Accord outlines. In addition, increased protections and restitution for survivors of sexual abuse have also been a prominent issue, as this subject played a significant role in the collapse of the previous government.

That the Left-Greens are even in coalition talks with the Independence Party has not sat well with everyone. Vísir reports that about 90 people have resigned from the party since the talks were announced last Monday. Although this comprises only a tiny portion of the approximately 6,000 people registered in the Left-Greens, Left-Green MPs Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir and Andrés Ingi Jónsson voted against the talks, and the youth branch of the party issued a statement that they were categorically opposed to working with the Independence Party.

The chairs of all three of these parties have told reporters that they expect talks to conclude in the coming days. A clearer picture of Iceland’s next government should form after the weekend.


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