Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir officially succeeded Jón Gunnarsson as Minister of Justice at a state council meeting this morning. At a press conference following the meeting, Guðrún stated that immigration was “the most urgent issue” facing Icelandic society today.
At a party meeting in Valhöll yesterday, Minister of Finance and Chair of the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson confirmed that Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir would take over as Minister of Justice from Jón Gunnarsson. Guðrún was promised a ministerial position following the elections in 2021.
In an interview with Vísir, Bjarni Benediktsson stated that he did not worry about the divisiveness of the decision; Jón had done an excellent job as a minister, that he enjoyed the support of party members all over the country, but that he had faith that Guðrún could do well as his successor. Bjarni also made mention of the fact that this was the first time that women were in the majority of the Independence Party’s ministerial staff.
Guðrún told Vísir that she was excited about her new role. Asked if policy changes could be expected, she stated that Jón had worked according to the policies of the Independence Party and its national conference. “Which I will, of course, also do.” Some changes would be made, but first, she planned to identify the most urgent issues facing the Ministry: “We will see how things go from there,” Guðrún remarked.
Jón observed that the decision was in accordance with what was proposed at the beginning of the election period, although he did not deny wanting to remain as a minister. “But that’s politics,” he added.
Ministerial change confirmed at Bessastaðir
The ministerial change was officially confirmed at a state council meeting at Bessastaðir, the presidential residence, this morning. Jón Gunnarsson will remain an MP, although it remains to be seen whether he will take over as Chair of the Economic and Trade Committee from Guðrún.
At a press conference after the meeting, Guðrún stated that like her predecessor would follow the Independence Party’s policy in matters of immigration, adding that all systems in the asylum seeker system were being severely tested. “Immigration is the most urgent issue in Icelandic society today,” she observed. Guðrún also mentioned police matters and the sale of alcohol as urgent issues facing the cabinet.
Appointments to the National Court imminent
One of the projects that Guðrún takes on is the appointment of judges at the National Court.
The application deadline for one judge position at the National Court expired a week ago. While the state council meeting took place, the Ministry of Justice published a list of candidates: Ásgerður Ragnarsdóttir and Kjartan Bjarni Björgvinsson have applied for the position. As noted by RÚV, either of them will be appointed to the position starting August 21 after a jury considers their qualifications.