Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir has been named the new Minister of Justice following the resignation of Jón Gunnarsson. Guðrún is an MP for the Independence Party, one of the three parties comprising the ruling coalition government, alongside the Left-Green Movement and the Progressive Party.
Guðrún formally took office at the Cabinet meeting presided over by President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson at Bessastaðir June 19.
This marks the first time that women comprise a majority of ministers from the Independence Party. In Iceland, June 19 is a day in celebration of women’s rights, as women were allowed partial suffrage in 1915.
Jón Gunnarsson has been considered a controversial figure in Icelandic politics, heading his party‘s aggressive immigration policies. Guðrún is expected to toe the same line.
Guðrún was elected to Alþingi in the 2021 parliament elections. At the age of 23, she achieved the position of CEO of the ice cream company Kjörís, following her father’s passing in 1993, who established the company.
From 2008 to 2021, Guðrún worked as the director of marketing for Kjörís. She is also the former chairman of the Federation of Icelandic Industries, holding that position from from 2014 to 2020; and former chairman of the board for the National Coalition of Pension Funds, among other board memberships.
Among her first tasks as justice minister will be appointing a new judge to the Court of Appeal.
One of Jón’s last acts in office was finalising two new regulations regarding applicants for international protection.
One of the regulations involves financially compensating for the “voluntary return of foreigners” to their home country.
The other regulation narrows the definition of an applicant’s “specific relations” to Iceland. Applicants that form relationships in Iceland after having applied for protection are not deemed to have specific relations in the country. Relations to next of kin who are in Iceland on illegitimate grounds are also not deemed specific.
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