Presidential Candidates Katrín and Baldur Neck and Neck

Bessastaðir, official residence of the President of Iceland.

The field of candidates for the office of president of Iceland is becoming clearer, with elections set for June 1. The frontrunners are neck and neck, according to pollster Gallup, with former Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir polling at 30% and Baldur Þórhallsson, professor of political science, at 26%.

Vísir reports that this survey shows that Katrín and Baldur are statistically equal. Comedian and former mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr is in third place with 18%, the only other candidate in double digits.

Political turmoil after Katrín’s announcement

The race was shaken up by Katrín’s announcement that she would resign as prime minister and leader of the Left-Green Movement to run for president, a mostly ceremonial position that comes with limited political powers. Independence Party leader Bjarni Benediktsson took over as prime minister as other cabinet positions were reshuffled. Katrín remains a popular politician, even though her coalition government has lost public support during this term.

Other candidates are polling at lower numbers. Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO of B Team, polls at 7%, with lawyer Arnar Þór Jónsson and Halla Hrund Logadóttir, director general of Iceland’s National Energy Authority both at 4%.

Age and gender divide

According to Gallup, older people are more likely to vote for Katrín, while Jón gets most of his support from younger people. Women are also more likely to support Baldur, Halla Tómasdóttir and Katrín, with men more likely to support Jón.

The deadline to confirm candidacy is in two weeks and the election takes place on June 1. The current president, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, announced on January 1 that he would not run again after serving two terms.

Katrín Leads in Presidential Poll

Katrín Jakobsdóttir Bjarni Benediktsson Sigurður Ingi Ráðherra

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who resigned as prime minister and leader of the Left-Green Movement this weekend to run for president of Iceland, leads the race according to a new survey by pollster Maskína.

32.9% said they would vote for Katrín in the presidential election scheduled for June 1, Mbl.is reports. Katrín announced her campaign last week after months of speculation, throwing the future of the coalition government she headed into question. Discussions are ongoing within her party and coalition partners the Independence Party and the Progressive Party about the shape of a new cabinet to serve until next year’s parliamentary elections. Katrín remains as prime minister until a new coalition is formed.

Baldur close on Katrín’s heels

26.7% said they would vote for Baldur Þórhallsson, professor of political science. Jón Gnarr, comedian and former mayor of Reykjavík, had 19.6% support in the poll. 7.9% said they would vote for Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO of B Team. Halla Hrund Logadóttir, director general of the National Energy Authority, had 5.7% support, while other candidates polled below 5%.

The current president, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, announced on January 1 that he would not be seeking reelection after two terms in office. The role of president is a largely ceremonial one, although it comes with limited political powers.

Coalition Government in Flux After PM Decision

government coalition

The future of the coalition government is uncertain following yesterday’s announcement by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir that she would leave her post to run for the office of president.

Katrín’s Left-Green Movement, the Independence Party and the Progressive Party make up the coalition, but it is unclear if it will continue until the elections set for next year. It has not been announced who will take over from Katrín as prime minister or if new elections will be called ahead of schedule.

Unclear who will be prime minister

According to Morgunblaðið, the leaders of the coalition parties are in talks about the next steps, with both the Independence Party and the Progressive Party laying claim to the office of prime minister. If talks break down, a new coalition could be formed to serve until next year’s elections.

Opposition MPs have called for a new election immediately. The Left-Green Movement will also need to choose a successor for Katrín, who resigned as leader yesterday after 11 years at the helm. Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, minister of social affairs and the labour market, has taken Katrín’s place until party members make their decision.

Dozens of candidates for president

Katrín is leaving parliamentary politics to campaign for the largely ceremonial office of president. This is the first time in Iceland’s history that the reigning prime minister runs for president. Current president, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, announced on January 1 that he would leave the office this summer after having served two terms.

Other candidates for president include Jón Gnarr, comedian and former mayor of Reykjavík, Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO of B Team, Baldur Þórhallsson, professor of political science, and dozens of others. The election takes place in one round on June 1. Therefore, the next president could be elected with a significant minority of the total vote.

Iceland News Review: Presidential Elections Special Edition!

In this episode of Iceland News Review, we explore all the latest on who’s running for President of Iceland, including one surprise candidate that might shake up the government. In addition, big changes at Geysir, plus weather, road conditions, and much more!

Iceland News Review brings you all of Iceland’s top stories, every week, with the context and background you need. Be sure to like, follow and subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode!

Snæfellsjökull Glacier Enters Presidential Race

snæfellsjökull glacier iceland

Iceland’s presidential race has a cool new candidate – the glacier Snæfellsjökull. Launched officially on March 15, the campaign emphasises ecology in order to “move towards environmental consciousness and global unity.”

An emblem of Iceland

In a recent press release, the campaign states: “Amidst the conventional political landscape, we believe it’s time to challenge the status quo and elect a candidate that symbolizes endurance, resilience, and global interconnectedness. Snæfellsjökull is already an emblem of Iceland and a custodian of geo-cultural wisdom, representing the very essence of stability and sustainability. With a towering presence and serene demeanor, Snæfellsjökull embodies a balance of steadfastness and adaptability, qualities much needed in today’s rapidly changing world.”

The campaign also stresses the importance of environmental stewardship. By nominating a non-human being to the presidency of Iceland, the campaign hopes to bring greater awareness to sustainability and eco-justice.

Even non-human beings need a kennitala

A kennitala, or civil registration number, is given to all citizens and legal residents of Iceland. In addition to being a minimum 35 years of age (which the glacier well exceeds) and mustering a minimum number of petition endorsements, candidates for the presidency of Iceland are also required to be citizens, and therefore, to have a kennitala.

In a statement on social media, campaign organiser and presidential proxy Angela Marie Snæfellsjökuls Rawlings, stated:

“In early 2024, thirty humans commenced work on a campaign to nominate Snæfellsjökull for the presidency—Snæfellsjökul fyrir forseta. We puzzled through how to work within a digitised administrative system and legislative framework that was not yet purpose-built to support a non-human entity to have a kennitala. Snæfellsjökull fulfilled the requisite age limit (at least 35 years old) and citizenship (Icelandic); the only thing remaining to establish our candidacy and collect enough nomination signatures to get the glacier on the ballot was a kennitala. Could we work with a pre-existing organisation that has a kennitala? Should we form a non-profit to acquire a kennitala for Snæfellsjökull? No, it should be a kennitala of an individual as organisations cannot run for president. And so legal eagles in the campaign team asked if I, as campaign manager, would offer my kennitala as proxy—understanding that I personally do not want to be president. They recommended it would be better if the candidate’s name included Snæfellsjökull so it’s clearly linked to the kennitala in the nomination form.”

Facing up the competition

The presidential race is already a crowded field, and the beloved glacier will face stiff competition, including former Reykjavík mayor Jón Gnarr, popular professor of political science Baldur Þórhallsson, and possibly even current Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

The Snæfellsjökull campaign has also stressed the importance of inclusivity and diversity, and campaign literature is available in Icelandic, English, Polish, and Spanish.

Read more: How do I become the president of Iceland?

 

A Powerful Volcanic Eruption and a Heated Presidential Race

Reykjanes peninsula eruptions

In this episode of Iceland News Review, the still-ongoing volcanic eruption on Reykjanes peninsula, a hotly contested presidential race, a bird’s incredible return to East Iceland, and much more.

Iceland News Review brings you all of Iceland’s top stories, every week, with the context and background you need. Be sure to like, follow and subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode!

Presidential Race Heats Up

Halla Tómasdóttir, candidate for president of Iceland

A new contender has entered the race for president of Iceland. Halla Tómasdóttir, a business person, CEO of B Team and a previous candidate for the office, announced her candidacy at a press conference yesterday, Heimildin reports.

On New Year’s Day, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson announced his decision not to run again in the election, set for June 1. He was elected in 2016 with 39% of the vote. Halla also ran in 2016, coming in second with 28% of the vote.

Ready to make a difference

“If you want a president who is ready to go to work and believes that by harnessing our creativity in the fields of culture, arts, and business we can accomplish anything, then I’m ready to commit myself to make a difference,” Halla said at the well attended press conference in Reykjavík. “If you want a president who wants to build bridges, has empathy and joy, and believes that equality is the key to an even stronger society, then I am sincerely ready, along with my husband, to serve the interests of Icelanders with all my heart.”

Multiple candidates in the running

The president is head of state in Iceland and the role is mostly ceremonial, although it comes with limited political powers according to the constitution. A number of people have signed up online to collect the 1,500 necessary signatures of supporters to be allowed to run for the office, with the deadline set at April 26, but only a handful of candidates have formally announced that they’re running.  They include Agnieszka Sokolowska, Arnar Þór Jónsson, Axel Pétur Axelsson, Ástþór Magnússon, Húni Húnfjörð, Sigríður Hrund Pétursdóttir and Tómas Logi Hallgrímsson.

A recent poll conducted by a publicist showed 35% approval for Halla’s candidacy. Baldur Þórhallsson, a professor of political science who is considering a run, had 53% approval in the same poll. Many other names have been rumoured as possible candidates.