Siv Fridleifsdótir, new Minister of
Health and Social Security
In the midst of rumors of power struggles and dissatisfaction within the Progressive Party, Prime Pinister Halldór Ásgrímsson announced changes yesterday to his cabinet; Árni Magnússon, Minister of Social Affairs, is leaving politics, and Minister of Health and Social Security, Jón Kristjánsson, will take his place. Siv Fridleifsdóttir, Minister of the Environment from 1999 – 2004, will rejoin the cabinet as Minister of Health and Social Security. The changes take effect on Tuesday.
The Progressives have received considerable criticism for their management of the Icelandic healthcare system. In an editorial last month, Morgunbladid wrote, “It is long overdue that the healthcare system be restructured,” and also pointed out that 2167 people currently waitlisted to undergo surgery at LSH (National Hospital – University Hospital).
The Progressives are also said to have made Iceland’s healthcare system one of the world’s most expensive.
Siv told reporters yesterday that the she looked forward to the new job. “This is a great challenge because 40% of the government’s expenditure is for healthcare and social security.” She added that she is inheriting a “well run” organization from Jón Kristjánsson.
Jón, Minister of Health for the last five years, told reporters that it was clear that his former ministry was “difficult.”
Árni Magnússon has been hired as a director in the Corporate and Investment Banking Department at Íslandsbanki.
Support for Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson’s Progressive Party is at an all-time low, measuring in at 7.1%. In the national election two years ago, the Progressive Party received 18% of the votes.