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New Government Confirmed

Iceland’s new government is now official and has presidential approval to run the country under the leadership of the new Prime Minister, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson.

Sigurður Ingi is the seventh individual in the history of the Icelandic Republic to lead the government without also leading his or her party; as outgoing PM Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson will remain chairman of the Progressive Party and a sitting Member of Parliament, though he will not be a government minister.

Sigurður Ingi leaves behind his old post as Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, which is now filled by the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson.

Gunnar Bragi is replaced as Minister for Foreign Affairs by Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, who is an international economics expert and is not a sitting Member of Parliament. She was personally recommended for a cabinet position by Sigmundur Davíð.

There are no changes to the other Progressive Party ministers, or to the Independence Party side of the ministerial table.

Independence Party leader and Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson has promised new elections this autumn, which would otherwise have gone ahead in summer 2017. It is believed the new government as a whole plans to honor this promise.

In addition to Lilja Dögg, the ongoing interior minister, Ólöf Nordal, is also not a sitting Member of Parliament—though she is deputy chair of the Independence Party.

Ólöf Nordal was not at the presidential meeting due to illness today, but she is now part of the second-ever gender balanced Icelandic government—with five men and five women. The first gender balanced cabinet was run by Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.

The Icelandic political establishment has been in turmoil since it was revealed on Sunday April 3 that three government ministers were implicated in the global Panama Papers scandal, relating to offshore businesses. The Icelandic PM decided to step aside from his role, though to remain an MP and the leader of his party. The other two implicated ministers remain and there is palpable public anger and calls from some for new elections right away.

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