President: PM’s Bid May Call for Caretaker Clause in Constitution Skip to content

President: PM’s Bid May Call for Caretaker Clause in Constitution

By Ragnar Tómas

President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson addresses the media
Photo: Guðni Th. (Screenshot from Vísir).

Following the resignation of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and her pursuit of a presidential bid, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has suggested that it may be time to discuss amending the Constitution to include provisions for a caretaker government. This morning, Katrín Jakobsdóttir handed the keys of the Prime Minister’s Office to her successor, Bjarni Benediktsson.

The Constitution “functioned accordingly”

In light of the resignation of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir – who is currently gathering endorsements for a Presidential bid – Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the President of Iceland, believes that it is worth discussing the introduction of new provisions in the Constitution regarding a caretaker government, Mbl.is reports.

Guðni stated this in a speech at the end of a state council meeting at the presidential residence at Bessastaðir yesterday. He noted that there should be a discussion on whether to include in the Constitution provisions about a caretaker government, its limited scope of operation, and other related issues. He also fielded questions from reporters after his speech, some of whom inquired as to the role of a caretaker government during periods of transition.

Guðni emphasised that the country’s constitution had functioned properly under the circumstances that arose; Katrín Jakobsdóttir requested to be relieved of her duties two days ago, but Guðni asked her to continue in her role since her successor had not yet been found.

“The Constitution held and functioned as it should under circumstances that were certainly unusual. Two days ago, Katrín Jakobsdóttir came to me and requested to be relieved of her duties for herself and her ministry. Then, it was clear that the leaders of the three government parties intended to continue their collaboration,” Guðni stated, adding that it was not yet clear who would become the Prime Minister and hence a caretaker government took over. Similarly, the constitution should ensure flexibility.

Further changes may be desirable

When asked about the number of endorsements a presidential candidate needs to secure, Guðni also noted that changes to the section of the Constitution pertaining to the presidency would be desirable. This number is fixed in the Constitution and has remained unchanged for a long time; 1,500 endorsements are required for eligibility.

A protest was called in response to yesterday’s state council meeting where the new government, led by Bjarni Benediktsson, assumed power. As noted by Vísir, the interactions between the protesters and the police were not entirely peaceful, resulting in three arrests.

This morning, Katrín Jakobsdóttir handed the keys of the Prime Minister’s Office to her successor, Bjarni Benediktsson.

Guðni’s full speech can be viewed here.

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