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Merge to Form Largest Municipality in Iceland

Four East Iceland municipalities will be consolidated to form the largest municipality in the country. Residents of Fljótsdalshérað, Borgarfjarðarhreppur, Seyðisfjarðarhreppur, and Djúpavogshreppur voted on Saturday to consolidate the four municipalities under a single local government. The new municipality will be the largest in Iceland geographically, with an area over 11,000 square kilometres (4,250 square miles) and will contain around 5,000 residents.

Voter turnout was relatively high in all four municipalities. Djúpavogshreppur had the highest voter turnout at 78%, followed by Borgarfjarðarhreppur at 71.6%, Seyðisfjarðarkaupstaður at 70.7% and Fljótsdalshérað at 53.6%. Though Fljótsdalshérað showed the lowest voter turnout, residents there were the most supportive of consolidation, with 92.9% voting for merging the four municipalities. Voters were supportive of the merger overall, with 86.7% voting for in Seyðisfjarðarkaupstaður, 64.7% in Borgarfjarðarhreppur, and 63.7% in Djúpavogshreppur.

The municipalities plan to hold elections next spring for the new local council. One of the council’s first tasks will be to choose a name for the new municipality. A press release on Seyðisfjarðarkaupstaður’s website says it is likely residents will be given the chance to suggest names and vote from a shortlist.

While the council will have 11 representatives who are responsible for the entire muncipality, each of the four regions will also retain a council of three members with more localised authority. The concept is built on experimental provisions on governance in 2011 legislation concerning local government. This will be the first time the provision is applied.

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