Chair of Iceland’s Social Democrats Resigns Skip to content

Chair of Iceland’s Social Democrats Resigns

Former Minister for Foreign Affairs and chairwoman of the Social Democrats Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir announced in a surprise move yesterday that she will not run at the upcoming elections on April 25 and is retiring from politics, at least temporarily.

Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir at a public meeting in November 2008. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.

Gísladóttir said her health problems were the reason for her decision, Fréttabladid reports.

On February 28, Gísladóttir announced that she intended to participate in the upcoming elections and continue to lead the Social Democrats, although Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir would remain the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

Yesterday’s announcement therefore came as a surprise. Political scientist Einar Mar Thórdarson expressed his opinion on RÚV last night that Gísladóttir’s health had perhaps not been the largest factor in her change of heart, but rather a lack of support from her own party members.

In another surprise move, Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir announced that she did not intend to take over as chairperson of the Social Democrats and neither does Össur Skarphédinsson, the current minister of industry and foreign affairs.

Vice-chairman of the Social Democrats Ágúst Ólafur Ágústsson announced his resignation in January.

It is therefore unclear who will lead the Social Democrats through the upcoming elections. It is considered natural for Sigurdardóttir to take the lead as the party’s prime ministerial candidate and, according to Fréttabladid’s sources, the party’s members are urging her to change her mind about not wanting to stand as chairperson of the party.

Former Mayor of Reykjavík Dagur B. Eggertsson and current Mayor of Hafnarfjördur Lúdvík Geirsson have been touted as potential candidates for chairman of the Social Democrats, although neither would confirm these rumors yesterday, declaring their support for Sigurdardóttir.

“I believe Jóhanna should shoulder the responsibility during the upcoming campaign,” said Geirsson. “She enjoys full support as prime ministerial candidate and it is therefore natural for her to be the party’s chairperson as well.”

Social Democrat MP Árni Páll Árnason had announced his candidacy for the party’s vice-chair with Gísladóttir as chairwoman. He said it is too early to tell whether he will now run for chairman.

Former Foreign Minister (1988-1995) Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson encouraged Sigurdardóttir to become the party’s chairperson, stating that otherwise he will consider running for the post.

Hannibalsson has openly criticized Gísladóttir for not shouldering her part of the responsibility for Iceland’s economic collapse.

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