Former Mayor of Reykjavík Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir announced yesterday that she will run as chair for the Independence Party—which is the country’s largest political party although currently in opposition—at the party’s upcoming general meeting and challenge the current chair, Bjarni Benediktsson, for his position.
“Iceland should not join the European Union as the country’s interests are not best preserved there. Icelanders should focus on the matters most important at home rather than trying to position themselves elsewhere. I find this application process was a failure from the start,” Kristjánsdóttir told Morgunbladid of her main agenda.
She would like to withdraw the EU membership application and maintain the Icelandic króna as the country’s currency. “The króna has been of good use to us, especially in the current circumstances. I think it’s wrong to think that we will achieve stability through a different currency.”
As for solutions to the country’s economic problems, Kristjánsdóttir said she is keen on lowering taxes, reducing official intervention, improving the position of homeowners and enhancing opportunities on the job market.
On RÚV’s news magazine Kastljós last night, Kristjánsdóttir said that there are no major differences in her and Benediktsson’s policies—they are members of the same party, after all.
However, she believes she can do better in increasing support for the party and would like to provide members with a choice as to who is their leader. If elected, she would be the first woman to lead the Independence Party.
Recent surveys indicate that Independence Party supporters favor Kristjánsdóttir over Benediktsson; 70.3 percent, according to a MMR poll conducted in October, up from 51.4 percent in a Gallup poll in September, although in that poll other possible candidates were also mentioned whereas MMR only mentioned the two of them, eyjan.is reports.
Even so, Benediktsson told Morgunbladid that he senses great support among party members. “Independents want to continue with the work that has been done under my leadership, not least regarding economic affairs.”
He added Kristjánsdóttir’s candidacy didn’t come as a surprise. “The chairman of the Independence Party can always expect someone to try out their strength and position.”
Benediktsson, who used to be of the view that the EU membership application process should be completed and the agreement evaluated, announced in August that he would now like to terminate negotiations.