From Iceland — Ruling Coalition Decreases By One Left-Green

Ruling Coalition Decreases By One Left-Green

Published December 6, 2019

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Timothée Lambrecq

Andrés Ingi Jónsson, a member of Parliament who was elected as a Left-Green Party MP in 2017, announced on November 27th that he would be leaving the party. The news should come as a surprise to precisely no one—both he and another Left-Green MP, Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir, have been critical of the party leadership ever since the Left-Greens agreed to enter into a coalition with the Independence Party, something many prominent Left-Greens promised would never happen in the run-up to the elections.

Falling short

In an announcement about his departure that he posted on Facebook, Andrés expressed frustration with how the party has compromised much of what it ostensibly stands for.

“Admittedly, we have had some achievements, but often compromises have fallen far short of our ideals, as shown in a government bill on foreigners last spring,” he wrote in part. “Urgent action to combat disaster relief has not gone as far as I think necessary and self-evident in a government led by a green movement.”

The majority shrinks

As in many countries with a parliamentary representative democracy, Iceland’s government is comprised of a majority coalition—in this case, the Left-Greens, the Independence Party and the Progressive Party. Such coalitions usually (but not always) depend on holding a majority of seats to maintain the confidence of parliament.

Iceland’s Parliament has 63 seats, and the current ruling coalition had 35 of them. With Andrés’ departure, that majority is now at 34, which still gives the coalition government a comfortable five-seat hold on the government, but nonetheless reflects poorly on the coalition’s ability to show a united front.

So now what happens?

It bears mentioning that there is a difference between leaving the parliamentary party and leaving the party altogether. Andrés has expressed no intent on no longer being a Left-Green politician; he simply will not be a part of the party’s seats in Parliament.

For now, he will simply be an independent MP—effectively a member of the opposition, but free to vote his conscience on bills and proposals from any party, as should be expected of any politician of good faith.

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