Independence Party Leader Bjarni Benediktsson told RÚV last night that if his conversations with the leaders of other parties don’t yield results before the weekend, he might have to return his mandate to form a government. Cooperation with the Left-Green Movement is off the table, according to him. Following Iceland’s parliamentary election October 29, in which the Independence Party emerged as the country’s largest political party, Bjarni was given the mandate to form a government.
He met with President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson Tuesday and told him of his intention to begin formal coalition talks this week. After a meeting with his party group yesterday, however, Bjarni did not sound optimistic.
This is what he had to say:
“There is a considerable divide between people on many levels, but now, I’m going to continue these conversations and see whether there is a basis for beginning actual negotiations with other parties on forming a government. And I stress that I don’t have any particular [option] in mind in favor of others in that respect, but otherwise, I’ll have to let this suffice for now and return the mandate; that may just be a reality which we face.”
Bjarni stated it is not clear what parties he will invite to the table. He denied there being opposition within the party group to collaboration with Bright Future and the Reform Party, but admitted that such collaboration included challenges. He described his cooperation with the Progressive Party as good so far and would like to keep it that way.
When asked about the Left-Green Movement, he responded, “We have spoken a few times,and I think it is out of the question to begin any talks between the parties.”