Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson announced this evening that he plans to withdraw from politics.
The announcement was made at Thingvellir after a meeting of the National Committee and the parliamentary delegation of the Progressive Party of which Halldór serves as chairman.
Morgunbladid reports that it will be proposed tomorrow at cabinet meeting that a new government be formed led by the current Foreign Minister and chairman of the Independence Party, Geir H. Haarde.
Since 1995 the Progressive and Independence parties have ruled the national government of Iceland through a series of coalition governments. Halldór became Prime Minister in 2004, taking over from Davíd Oddsson, the former chairman of the Independence Party who had served as Prime Minister since 1991.
According to Morgunbladid, Halldór said he would lead the negotiations for forming the new coalition government on behalf of the Progressives. He plans to serve as chairman of the Progressive Party until the fall when a party convention will be convened to elect a new chairman. Halldór also said that he planned to continue to serve as Member of Parliament.
Halldór said that the vice-chairman, Gudni Ágústsson, Minister for Agriculture, had also decided to withdraw from the party’s leadership. Finnur Ingólfsson had been approached and asked to return to politics and a leadership role in the Progressive Party, said Halldór. Halldór said he supported Finnur but the party would chose its leaders.
Finnur Ingólfsson is a former vice-chairman of the Progressives, ex-Minister of Trade and Industry, a former governor of the Central Bank of Iceland and the current chairman of the insurance company VÍS.