Foreign Affairs Minister and former Prime Minister Davíð Oddsson announced his resignation today from Icelandic politics, effective from the end of September. The announcement did not come as a surprise and Davíð, whose careers spans almost 30 years in both local and national Icelandic politics, cited no specific reasons for his departure.
Davíð will not be retiring completely, however. On 1 October, he will become Chair of the Board of the Icelandic Central Bank, a role which will ensure that he will retain considerable influence on Icelandic economic policy.
Davíð’s departure as both a senior cabinet minister and as head of the Independence Party in Iceland will open the door for Geir H. Haarde, currently Minister of Finance, to run as Chair of the Independence Party at the upcoming party conference in October. He will also replace Davíð as Minister of Foreign Affairs, with Árni M. Mathiesen moving into the Finance portfolio. Árni’s current role as Minister of Fisheries will be filled by MP Einar K. Guðfinnsson.
Davíð Oddsson was Iceland’s longest-serving Prime Minister and held the job from 1991 until 2004, when he resigned in a pre-arranged agreement between the ruling coalition of the Independence and Progressive Parties. In 2004, then-Foreign Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson stepped into the Prime Minister’s job. Davíð has remained a dominant figure in politics.
The next national elections are expected in 2007. Geir Haarde’s likely leadership of the Independence Party (which regularly polls around 40% of the total vote) does not look like it will have a significant impact on the potential outcome. Davíð’s resignation is significant because of his long political career, but his departure is unlikely to shake up the political echelons of the country.