Grétar Þór Eyþórsson, a professor in political science at the University of Akureyri, said the different results of two recent surveys indicate that the Icesave verdict influenced the support for political parties in Iceland.
In the Capacent Gallup survey, which was carried out throughout the month of January, the top three parties were the Independence Party, Björt framtíð (‘Bright Future’; BF) and the Social-Democratic Alliance.
However, in the survey by Stöð 2 and Fréttablaðið, carried out over two days last week after the Icesave verdict was announced, the top three parties were the Independence Party, Progressive Party and BF, with the Social Democrats plummeting to fourth place.
The Progressive Party’s jump at the cost of the Social Democrats can be explained by the former party’s position on Icesave, Grétar reasoned in an interview with RÚV.
Grétar added it is clear that Icesave is the main influencing factor in the deterioration of support for the Social Democrats but not the public’s opposition to European Union membership as BF, which is also pro-EU, fares well in both surveys.
Heiða Kristín Helgadóttir, who chairs BF’s board, told RÚV that the party’s support rating is the result of two years’ work and in line with what they set out to achieve.
According to Gallup, the new party would get 19 percent of votes and be the country’s second-largest if the election were held today. The Stöð 2 and Fréttablaðið survey indicate that the party would earn 16 percent and come third.
In her opening speech of the Social-Democratic Alliance’s general meeting on Saturday, Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir stated smaller parties could only achieve their goals in collaboration with the Social Democrats.
When asked whether BF is considering potential coalition partners, Heiða stated nothing had been decided.
“We will wait and see what will occur in the coming months, what the parties prioritize and how people behave during the campaigns. Whether they act respectfully,” she commented.
Grétar added it is obvious that support ratings are fluctuating significantly at the moment. A number of respondents were undecided.
The Social Democrats, which was the largest party after the 2009 election, has not received as low a ranking—16 percent in the Gallup survey and 12 percent in the other—in more than 13 years. Only two weeks ago the party enjoyed support of 20 percent.
The party’s new chair, Árni Páll Árnason, who took over the lead from Jóhanna at the general meeting on Saturday, stated an honest campaign will win the voters back.
At the same occasion, Minister of Finance Katrín Júlíusdóttir was elected vice-chair of the Social Democrats.
Click here to read more about the two surveys and Árni Páll being announced Social Democrat chair.