Icelandic PM Sigurður Ingi Jóhannson, newly elected leader of the Progressive Party, told RÚV this morning that he is willing to work with anyone within the party. Sigurður Ingi won the election at the party’s convention yesterday. He received about 52 percent of the votes, while Sigmundur Davíð received close to 48 percent. This is the first time since 1944 that a sitting chairman of the party is voted out.
Sigmundur Davíð leads the list of party representatives in the northeastern constituency, and Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, an avid supporter of Sigmundur Davíð, leads the list in the northwest. Sigurður Ingi told RÚV, “As I’ve said, there is no ideological difference between Sigmundur, or others, and me, so I have complete confidence that I can and they can continue to work within the party, along with the rest of us.
It was noted during the convention that before votes were cast, Sigmundur Davíð was given an hour to address those present, while Sigurður Ingi only had 15 minutes. Furthermore, Sigmundur Davíð’s speech was broadcast live, while Sigurður Ingi’s was not.
Sigurður Ingi spoke with reporters once it was clear he had won the election. He stated he did not fear the party would split. A hundred-year-old party can survive this, he asserted. Sigmundur Davíð refused to comment after votes had been counted. He left the convention in a hurry shortly thereafter, during Sigurður Ingi’s speech.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Lilja Alfreðsdóttir was elected vice chair of the party with an overwhelming majority, after Minister for Social Affairs and Housing Eygló Harðardóttir withdrew her candidacy for the position. Eygló explained she decided not to run for the position in an effort to appease members of the convention. She had previously announced she would like to run for vice chair on the condition that Sigurður Ingi be elected chairman. Prior to the election, Lilja had declared her support for Sigmundur Davíð as chairman.
Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson withdrew his candidacy for the position of party secretary once it was clear Sigmundur Davíð had lost the election. Instead, Jón Björn Hákonarson was elected party secretary.
Once the results were in, Lilja told reporters she did not fear the party would split in the wake of the election.