From Iceland — Iceland's New Government Formed

Iceland’s New Government Formed

Published November 30, 2017

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Left-Green chair Katrín Jakobsdóttir is Iceland’s new Prime Minister, and the Independence Party has received the majority of ministerial seats. Approval of the joint platform was not without contention within the Left-Green ranks, as two of their MPs voted against it. The major points of the joint platform was revealed just moments ago.

At a press conference held just moments ago, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson and Progressive Party chair Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (whose ministerial position has still not been revealed), went over the major points of the joint platform of Iceland’s new government.

Katrín said that the Left-Greens will have, apart from the Prime Minister’s office, both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for the Environment. To that end, she said this government would “go farther than the Paris Accord” when it comes to fighting climate change. She mentioned that improving the health care system was a major point of emphasis in her party’s campaign. Further, the government will strive for increased gender equality, increased support for survivors of sexual abuse, and greater harmony in the labour market.

Bjarni revealed that the Independence Party will be in charge of five ministries in all: finance, foreign affairs, justice, fishing and agriculture, and industries, innovation and tourism. He also emphasised the importance of harmony in the labour market, saying that it was important that Iceland’s current economic boom be to the benefit of all. To this end, introducing the budget will be the first project of this new government.

Sigurður Ingi said the Progressives would be running the ministries of transport and local government, education and welfare. His points of emphasis included that “all Icelanders have equal access to the same services” regardless of income level, that the government do more to help young Icelanders buy their first home, that short-term rentals for tourists be examined more closely, and that the tax-free income level for the elderly be raised.

Sources close to Fréttablaðið have added that this new government will also aim to accept more refugees, develop the infrastructure in the countryside, and increase penalties for smuggling and selling drugs while reducing penalties for using them.

While there was predominant harmony within the Independence Party and the Progressives to approve the joint platform, the matter was quite contentious within the Left-Greens. Vísir reports that Left-Green MPs Andrés Ingi Jónsson and Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir voted against it, and they had also voted against their party forming a coalition with the Independence Party in the first place. They have yet to reveal if they will leave the party or continue to support the government.

The inclusion of increasing the fight against sexual abuse in this joint platform also raises the question of whether or not Independence Party MP Sigríður Andersen will again be Minister of Justice, as she played a key role in the sex abuse scandal that shook the previous government.

Who will get what ministerial seats is still yet to be revealed. We will provide updates as they arise.

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