Six Candidates Running for President Skip to content

Six Candidates Running for President

By Larissa Kyzer

Bessastaðir, official residence of the President of Iceland.
Photo: Bessastaðir, official residence of the President of Iceland. Taken by: Oddur Benediktsson.

There are now six candidates running for president, Fréttabladið reports. Of these, only current president Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has collected enough signatures of support for his presidential bid on the Registers Iceland website. Magnús Ingberg and Kristján Örn Elíasson are the newest presidential candidates, joining Guðmundur Franklín Jónsson, Axel Pétur Axelsson, and Arngrímur Friðrik Pálmason. No women or nonbinary candidates have put their names forth as contenders.

Magnús also submitted his name for consideration during the 2016 election but withdrew his candidacy when he was only able to secure 1,200 signatures of support. (The minimum for a candidate to run is 1,500 signatures and they must be from people in every quadrant of the country.) At the time, Magnús, a resident of Selfoss, said that he would stress cross-party co-operation and the improvement of local health services and public transportation. He also said that he was personally opposed to Iceland joining the EU but respected if his fellow countrymen disagreed with him on that point. (Fréttabladið did not speak to Magnús this year to confirm his current running platforms.)

Kristján Örn Elíasson told Fréttablaðið that he’d probably started collecting signatures too late in the process, having only registered as a candidate on Wednesday, but said that he was interested in seeing how the electronic collection of signatures this year would affect things. Asked why he is running for president, Kristján said that “it’s mainly a general dissatisfaction with the government and the executive powers. I feel like there is just so much corruption, and I want to emphasise that.” Kristján remains optimistic, though: “It’ll be fun to see what comes of this,” he remarked. “I expect I’ll advertise on Facebook and ask for recommendations and see how it goes.”

Guðmundur Franklín, a businessman and economist, is another of the candidates who has previously put his name forth for presidential consideration. A member of the Left-Green Movement, Guðmundur was the party chair and ran for parliament in 2013 but wasn’t eligible because he was residing abroad. In 2016, he put in his candidacy for president, but withdrew his name and endorsed former president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Guðmundur is particularly interested in expanding the powers of the president, making use of current presidential powers such as the right to appeal, and striving to fight corruption. “It is a great misunderstanding that the role of the president of Iceland is limited to smiling in front of foreign dignitaries and giving speeches on solemn occasions,” he told Vísir. “The office should not be a ceremonial one at all, but rather, the president should actively work for the benefit of the nation and look for all avenues to serve and support it.”

Civil engineer Axel Pétur Axelsson currently lives in Sweden. (There is no legal requirement that the president live full-time in Iceland.) Axel has asserted, among other things, that the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax, a “tempest in a teacup.” Speaking to Fréttabladið, he expressed particular anger over the travel restrictions that have prevented him from returning to Iceland to collect signatures of support in person and said “the first thing I’d do if I became president would be to fire the entire government…” (It’s worth noting that Iceland is a parliamentary democracy and only Alþingi has the authority to dissolve parliament in the event of a vote of no confidence.)

Arngrímur Friðrik Pálmason is a 64-year-old retired farmer who has not worked for the last 14 years. Prior to that, he sold farming equipment. In a recent interview with Eyjan, he said that he believes that he is the first presidential candidate with physical disabilities. Arngrímur’s run is largely a protest of “a society where the whole system is upside down.” He says that current president Guðni Th., Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson, and Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir have offered him meetings to discuss an ongoing legal dispute, but none of these meetings have taken place. The dispute is long-standing; Arngrímur and the man he’s at odds with, former presidential candidate and truck drive Sturla Jónsson, met with former president Ólafur Ragnar to discuss the matter. His is, indeed, largely a symbolic bid: “I have no particular ambition to become president,” he told DV.

Presidential candidates must submit their candidacy to the Ministry of Justice no fewer than five weeks before the general election, which this year, is Saturday June 27.

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