A new cabinet has been formed in Iceland under the leadership of Geir H. Haarde, chairman of the Independence party. The Progressive party is giving up the chair of the Prime minister after Halldór Ásgrímsson decided to quit politics 32 years after he was first elected member of Althingi, Iceland’s parliament.
The new Prime minister, Geir H. Haarde was elected chairman of the Independence party in the fall of 2005. He has been a member of Althingi since 1987. In 1998 he became Minister of finance and served in that capacity until he took over from Davíd Oddsson as chairman of the Independence party and Foreign minister. Geir H. Haarde was born in 1951.
After the shake up the Independence party loses one ministry, the Ministry of the Environment. Sigrídur Anna Thórdardóttir has been Minister of Environment since September 2004. Jónína Bjartmarz from the Progressive party replaces Sigrídur Anna as Minister of environment. Jónína has been one of the critical members of the Progressive party, often at odds with Halldór Ásgrímsson, particularly after she has not gotten cabinet posts. She is a lawyer and came into Althingi in the year 2000 after Finnur Ingólfsson, vice-chairman of the Progressive party, resigned and quit politics. She was born in 1952.
Two other new ministers come in from the Progressive party. Jón Sigurdsson, Governor of the Central bank in Iceland comes in as Minster of Trade and Industry. He has not been active in party politics previously and is not a member of Althingi. This move is unusual since almost all ministers are elected members of Althingi. The last time this happened was in 1988 when current President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, then chairman of the socialist People’s Alliance, became Minister of Finance. Jón Sigurdsson was considered radical as a young politician, but has been moving towards the center. He was previously rector of the Cooperative College at Bifröst and later manager of the Cooperative Employer’s Society. The society merged with the Employer’s Society of Iceland around 2000. Jón Sigurdsson was born in 1946.
Jón Sigurdsson replaces Valgerdur Sverrisdóttir who moves on to the Foreign ministry. Valgerdur has been minister of Trade and Industry since the year 2000. She has been a member of Althingi for the Progressive party since 1987. She has been loyal to Prime minister Ásgrímsson and has recently voiced opposition to Gudni Ágústsson who is vice-chairman of the party. Valgerdur said previously this week that she would not trust Gudni Ágústsson as chairman. Valgerdur Sverrisdóttir was born 1950.
Magnús Stefánsson will become Minister of Social services. He was first elected to Althingi for the Progressive party in 1995. He lost his seat in the 1999 elections but came in agaian two years later. He has been chairman of the Appropriations committee of Althingi, the maybe most powerful committee. He played in a pop band as a young man and had a popular hit song, Trusted friend. Magnús Stefánsson in considered loyal to Halldór Ásgrímsson, but he has not been vocal in the dispute within the party. Magnús Stefánsson was born in 1960.
Jón Kristjánsson who recently became Minister of Social Services after five years in the Ministry of Health gave up his cabinet post. Halldór Ásgrímsson said the two had been together in politics for a long time and that Jón Kristjánsson had wished to leave the cabinet at this time. He was born in 1942.
After the shakeup the Progressive party has three female ministers and three male ministers. The Independence party has five male ministers and one female minister. The new cabinet will formally take over next Thursday.