New administration for Iceland's government

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New administration for Iceland's government

Prime Minister and leader of the Independence Party (Sjálfstaedisflokkurinn) Geir H. Haarde and the new Foreign Minister and leader of the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin) Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir introduced the arrangement of Iceland’s new governmental administration last night.

Haarde met with his party members at Valhöll, the Independence Party’s headquarters in Reykjavík, and introduced his agreement with Gísladóttir on a joint policy for the new administration and on the appointment of ministers.

The council of the Independence Party formally agreed to the organization of the new administration with applause, Morgunbladid reports.

Gísladóttir met with her party members at Saga Hotel in Reykjavík where the new arrangement of the administration was also formally accepted.

Today the Prime Minister will introduce the new administration to the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.

Haarde and Gísladóttir will then introduce their policy declaration at a press conference in Thingvellir national park outside Reykjavík, where Althingi, Iceland’s parliament, was founded in 930.

The two party leaders had held several meetings at Thingvellir while discussing the arrangement of the new administration, which has been nicknamed the Thingvellir administration, or “Thingvallastjórnin.”

A formal change of administration will take place tomorrow.

The cabinet of the new government has 12 ministries; some ministries were merged while others were divided. The Ministry for Trade and Commerce is now two separate ministries, while the Ministry of Fisheries and the Ministry of Agriculture were merged.

Other changes include local authorities being moved from the Ministry of Social Affairs to the Ministry of Transport and social security pension funds moved to the Ministry of Social Affairs from of the Ministry of Health.

The new ministers from the rows of the Independence Party are:

Prime Minister: Geir H. Haarde

Minister of Education: Thorgerdur K. Gunnarsdóttir

Minister of Finance: Árni M. Mathiesen

Minister of Justice: Björn Bjarnason

Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture: Einar K. Gudfinnsson

Minister of Health: Gudlaugur Th. Thórdarson

There is only one woman among the ministers of the Independence Party, Thorgerdur Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, and according to Morgunbladid, female party members are dissatisfied with these results.

Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarsson is new to the cabinet and he faces a challenge as the new Minister of Health. Recent reports have revealed long waiting lists for patients and lack of staff at the National Hospital. The new administration will look at ways to operate the health system in Iceland. 

Sturla Bödvarsson, who served as minister of Transport, has left the cabinet but will serve as the President of Althingi.

According to Morgunbladid, Björn Bjarnason may step down as Minister of Justice after two years with Bjarni Benediktsson as a possible successor.

Independence Party voters demonstrated their dissatisfaction with Bjarnason by crossing his name out of the party’s candidate list in the elections, causing him to drop down one seat in parliament. 

The new ministers from the rows of the Social Democratic Alliance are:

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Ingibjörg S. Gísladóttir

Minister of Industry: Össur Skarphédinsson

Minister of Social Welfare (previously Social Affairs): Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir

Minister of Trade: Björgvin G. Sigurdsson

Minister of Transport: Kristján L. Möller

Minister of the Environment: Thórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir

According to Bladid, former Minister of Trade and Commerce Jón Sigurdsson will discontinue as leader of the Progressive Party (Framsóknarflokkurinn) in the middle of June and former Minister of Agriculture Gudni Ágústsson will probably take his place.

Photos courtesy of althingi.is.