Support for Government Never Lower

Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir

Iceland’s current government has never had less support among the public since it took office in November 2021, according to a new poll conducted by Gallup. The Social-Democratic Alliance, currently in the opposition, remains the strongest party in the country. RÚV reported first.

About 35% of those who took a stance stated that they support the government, which is 2.6% less support than in the last survey. This is the lowest level of support ever recorded for Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s government — and the lowest level of support recorded for a sitting government since July 2017. That government collapsed a month and a half later.

Only 6% would vote for Prime Minister’s party

Support for the two most popular parties, the Social-Democratic Alliance and the Independence Party, remains almost unchanged between months. Of those respondents who took a stance, 28.4% stated they would vote for the Social-Democratic Alliance if an election were held today, while 20.8% stated they would vote for the Independence Party. The Pirate Party followed in third place, with support around 10%.

The Progressive Party (one of three parties in the governing coalition along with the Independence Party and the Left-Green Movement) lost the most support since the previous poll, clocking in at just under 9%. The Reform Party and the Centre Party both measured around 8% support.

Only 6% of respondents stated they would vote for the Left-Green Movement, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s party and the current coalition leader. The Socialist Party trailed behind with around 5% support. Around 10% of respondents stated they would submit a blank vote or would not vote at all.

Stormy times for government

Since the last such poll was conducted by Gallup, the government switched out the Minister of Justice, and implemented a controversial temporary whaling ban, both of which may have made an impact on the public’s support. The whaling ban in particular brought to light disagreements between the parties in the governing coalition, leading to speculation that the coalition would disband. Parliament is currently on summer recess so it is unlikely any such disbanding will occur in the near future. The Central Bank’s damning report on the sale of state-owned Íslandsbanki has also been published in this period and may have had a marked impact on the public perception of the government.

The poll was conducted between June 1 and July 2, the total sample was over 11,300 people of which almost half responded.

Tjarnarbíó Theatre Will Not Have to Close This Fall

Tjarnarbíó theatre Reykjavík

Reykjavík’s leading independent theatre space Tjarnarbíó will remain open this fall thanks to the promise of additional funding from the Icelandic state and the City of Reykjavík. Tjarnarbíó Director Sara Marti Guðmundsdóttir announced last month that existing funding would not suffice to keep the theatre open and that it would close for good this September. Sara stated that authorities have promised to ensure the theatre can remain open, but have not told its staff exactly what form their support will take.

“We haven’t been told exactly how they’re going to carry it out but we have been promised that it won’t come to us having to close this fall as we assumed we would,” Sara told Vísir. The theatre was set to close this fall despite hosting a record number of theatre companies and performers and record ticket sales. The grant funding the theatre was receiving was not enough to remunerate its four full-time employees and carry out much-needed maintenance of facilities. “Because the building is so old, we keep having to spend money on things for which we shouldn’t be paying. The building and the scene itself have been neglected for an awfully long time, which is why we’ve reached this point now,” Sara stated last month.

Read More: Tjarnarbíó to Shut up Shop Without Increased Funding

Sara added that the state, city, and theatre staff will now carry out a needs assessment for the operation of independent performing arts in Iceland. She added that she is relieved at the outcome. “It was very difficult to not know before the summer vacation whether we were going to have jobs again in September. I’m extremely relieved to know, both for the sake of the staff and also the independent theatre scene as a whole.”

Magma Likely Collecting Under Reykjanes Again

Increasing uplift (land rise) has been measured on the Reykjanes peninsula since the beginning of April, a sign that magma is collecting below the surface. There are no indications that an eruption is imminent, however. The peninsula has been the site of Iceland’s two most recent eruptions, in 2021 and 2022.

Magma far below the surface

Land on the Reykjanes peninsula has risen between 2 and 2.5 centimetres (around one inch) since the beginning of April, Hildur María Friðriksdóttir, a natural hazard specialist at the Icelandic Met Office told RÚV. “What we’ve been seeing now is steady uplift by Fagradalsfjall [the site of the 2021 and 2022 eruptions]. We aren’t seeing any recent changes or anything sudden. We are seeing uplift which is probably due to magma that is collecting again beneath the site. It’s at a significant depth. The situation is stable at the moment.”

First eruptions in nearly 800 years

An eruption began on the Reykjanes peninsula on March 19, 2021, the first in the area for nearly 800 years. It lasted around six months, until September 2021. It was followed by another, though shorter, eruption at the same location in 2022, lasting just over two weeks. Experts have stated that these eruptions likely mark the beginning of a more active volcanic period on the peninsula.

Familiar activity, but no indications eruption is imminent

Both the 2021 eruption and 2022 eruption were preceded by uplift as well as strong earthquakes felt across Southwest Iceland and the capital region. An M 3.2 earthquake occurred on the Reykjanes peninsula, by Kleifarvatn lake, on June 28. Hildur says, however, that earthquake activity has been fairly stable on Reykjanes recently and it is difficult to say whether there will be another eruption on the peninsula, or when. “There is nothing currently that indicates an [imminent] eruption. I don’t dare to promise anything but there’s nothing that indicates an eruption as it stands.”

Read more about the geology of the Reykjanes peninsula.