Gallup: Support for Independence Party Hits Historic Low

bjarni benediktsson finance minister

The Independence Party has hit a historic low in the Gallup National Pulse survey, polling at only 18%, Vísir reports. Despite minor fluctuations in support between polls, overall backing for the government has decreased slightly from 33% to 32%.

Social Democratic Alliance enjoying increased support

The Independence Party is currently polling at 18% support in the latest National Pulse (Þjóðarpúls) survey by Gallup. This marks the lowest level of support the party has ever recorded in the over three-decade history of the National Pulse, Vísir reports

The Social Democratic Alliance remains the largest party with 28% support, followed by the Independence Party with 18.1% support. The Centre Party is now the third largest party in Iceland, polling at 9.7%, slightly ahead of the Progressive Party at 9.4%. As noted by Vísir, there has been little change in respondents’ answers between polls, although support for the government continues to decline, dropping from 33% in November to 32% in December.

Support for individual parties (with 2021 election results in brackets) is as follows:

  • Social Democratic Alliance: 28.4% (9.9%)
  • Independence Party: 18.1% (24.4%)
  • Centre Party: 9.7% (5.5%)
  • Progressive Party: 9.4% (17.3%)
  • Pirate Party: 9.1% (8.6%)
  • Reform Party: 8.8% (8.3%)
  • People’s Party: 6.8% (8.9%)
  • Left-Green Movement: 6.0% (12.6%)
  • Socialist Party: 3.6% (4.1%)

Trust in Government Plummets Following Controversial Bank Sale

If an election were held today, the current governing coalition would lose 12 of their 38 seats, losing their current majority. The three governing parties: the Left-Green Movement, the Independence Party, and the Progressive Party, would win 26 seats in Alþingi – 32 are needed for a majority government. The data comes from a recent poll Prósent conducted for news outlet Fréttablaðið.

All three governing parties lose following

Seven months since Iceland’s last parliamentary election and five months to the day since the cabinet was appointed, all three governing parties have lost significant following, according to the poll’s results. The Independence Party has experienced the biggest drop as compared to last autumn’s election results: from 24.4% to 17.9%. The Progressive Party now measures 12.4% support, as compared to 17.3% in the last election. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s party the Left-Green Movement has dropped from 12.9% support in the election to 9.6% in the poll.

Among the opposition, both the Pirate Party and the Social-Democratic Alliance have gained significant following when the poll is compared to the election results, and the Reform Party has also seen a slight increase in support, putting them on par with the Left-Green Movement. The People’s Party and Centre Party have both lost following since last autumn. The Socialist Party, which did not win any seats in the last election, would win three if elections were held today.

70% have little trust in Finance Minister

A recent poll from Maskína shows that trust in government ministers has fallen significantly since last year. The number of respondents that stated they trust Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson a lot has fallen by half since last autumn, from 37% to 18%. More than seven out of ten respondents stated they have little or very little trust in Bjarni.

Several controversies have emerged since the government took power last autumn, the biggest of which has been last month’s sale of a 22.5% stake in Íslandsbanki. The government’s handling of the sale has been harshly criticised by opposition MPs and has led to multiple public protests. A racist comment uttered by Progressive Party Chairman Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson has likely impacted his party’s following.

Election Investigation Will Take At Least One More Week

Bjarni Benediktsson icelandic politics

The chairmen of the Left-Green Movement, Independence Party, and Progressive Party continued their governing coalition negotiations yesterday. The three chairmen Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Bjarni Benediktsson, and Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson have played their cards close to their chest as far as the talks are concerned, but now say their coalition agreement is far along. The new government will, however, not be presented until the Credentials Committee completes its investigation of election proceedings in the Northwest Constituency.

Seven weeks have passed since Iceland’s parliamentary election on September 25, 2021. The governing coalition held its majority in the election, and three parties have been holding regular negotiations to define their continued collaboration since that time. The ministers now say that the main content of the coalition agreement has been ironed out, but confirm they will not present the new government until the investigation in the Northwest Constituency is completed.

Election investigation to take at least one more week

Uncertainty hangs over the election results from Iceland’s Northwest Constituency. Over a dozen legal complaints have been filed due to election proceedings in the constituency, where ballots were left unsealed and unsupervised between the initial count and recount that occurred the following day. The Credentials Committee has met 22 times to investigate the case and recently stated it will be at least another week before its final report is submitted to Parliament. Time is of the essence, as Parliament is required to pass a budget bill before the end of the year.

Division of ministries still unconfirmed

Bjarni stated yesterday that the division of ministries between the three parties is yet to be confirmed. The Independence Party has expressed interest in taking on the Ministry of Health, currently in the hands of the Left-Greens. The party leaders have also expressed the possibility of reorganising ministries, including establishing a ministry of infrastructure. According to Bjarni, however, ministry assignments have not been discussed much at this point in the talks.

New Government Must Wait for Election Investigation Results

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir

It’s not possible to present the new government until the Credentials Committee completes their investigation of election proceedings in the Northwest Constituency, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated in a RÚV interview this morning. Formal coalition talks between the Left-Green Movement, Progressive Party, and Independence Party are on hold this week while two of the party chairmen attend conferences abroad. Katrín stated it was unusual for a sitting government to be re-elected in Iceland, and that creates certainty despite the ongoing investigation in the Northwest Constituency.

Uncertainty hangs over the results from Iceland’s Northwest Constituency following the September 25 parliamentary election. Over a dozen legal complaints have been filed due to election proceedings in the constituency, where ballots were left unsealed and unsupervised between the initial count and recount that occurred the following day. After conducting an investigation, West Iceland Police stated there were no indications that votes were tampered with, but added they could not confirm that was the case.

Katrín stated that the new government would not be presented until the Credentials Committee had completed their investigation of the case, but that despite the uncertainty in the Northwest Constituency, the overall election results were clear. There is a sitting government and the government clearly held their majority in the election. “So there is really no uncertainty about the government or the majority,” Katrín stated. The negotiations are being conducted on the basis that Katrín will continue as Prime Minister. It has yet to be announced how the other government ministries will be distributed.

Katrín is currently in Glasgow, Scotland attending the COP26 Climate Change Conference. Transport Minister and Progressive Party Chairman Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson is also abroad for a Nordic Council session that begins in Copenhagen, Denmark today.

Energy and Climate Issues Biggest Stumbling Blocks in Coalition Talks

Iceland President Guðni Th. Jóhannessson and Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson met yesterday morning to discuss the ongoing coalition talks between the Left-Green Movement, Independence Party, and Progressive Party. The two are set to meet again at the beginning of next week for Katrín to update Guðni on the progress of the talks. Energy and climate issues have been said to be the main stumbling blocks in the negotiations, Vísir reports.

The Left-Greens, Independents, and Progressives formed Iceland’s previous government and managed to hold onto their majority in the September 25 election. For the past four weeks, they have been negotiating a continued coalition, a process all three party leaders have stated would take some time. The negotiations are conducted on the premise that Katrín will continue in the role of Prime Minister, something that a majority of Icelanders support, according to post-election polls.

Two of the key bills the government could not agree on last term concerned constitutional revisions and the formation of a national park in the Central Highland.

Coalition Talks Inching Forward

Talks between the leaders of the three political parties, who have led the coalition government since 2017, persisted at the Minister’s Residence yesterday. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Bjarni Benediktsson, and Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson continue to hold their cards close to their vest.

A majority extended

After the results of the parliamentary elections were called (notwithstanding a few lawsuits demanding a recount), it was clear that the previous three-party coalition government would keep their majority (with 37 MPs out of the total 63). Immediately afterwards, the leaders of the three parties iterated their intentions of beginning negotiations to keep the coalition together.

As reported by Mbl.is, other members of the coalition parties have stated that the negotiations are currently and entirely in the hands of the leadership. They expect, however, to be called to the table when a framework for the government agreement has been sketched, possibly next week.

The “difficult issues” causing a delay

The members stressed that the parties would be allowed sufficient time to resolve “difficult issues” lingering from the previous term before composing a new government agreement. These matters of contention – including the highland national park and questions regarding energy consumption – have, however, proved more time-consuming than expected.

As noted by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir on Tuesday, the leadership remains optimistic in its ability to resolve these issues but is not willing to offer a clear timeline regarding the agreement. “We have learned from experience the value of a carefully-composed government agreement.”

Katrín was also unwilling to say whether the relative success of the Progressive Party during the last election would translate into greater influence. “The reason why this coalition has been so successful is that we’ve approached things as equals; that’s how we’ve been able to resolve contentious matters.”

The negotiations between leaders of the three coalition parties are expected to adjourn over the weekend.

Three-Party Coalition to Continue

Bjarni, Katrín, Sigurður Ingi coalition

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Chairperson of the Left-Green Party and current Prime Minister, met with President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson on Friday morning to advise him that the current three-party coalition plans to continue its cooperation for another term, RÚV reports.

The coalition, which was formed after much negotiation in 2017, is composed of the Left-Greens, the Independence Party, and the Progressive Party. The coalition signalled that it was considering continued collaboration after they maintained their parliamentary majority in September’s election. Katrín, Progressive Party Chairperson Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, and Independence Party Chairperson Bjarni Benediktsson have, however, been tight-lipped so far as to the content of their discussions.

See Also: Governing Coalition in Talks for Continued Collaboration

After advising the President of their plans for continued collaboration, the three party leaders met to continue their discussions.

Governing Coalition in Talks for Continued Collaboration

Bjarni, Katrín, Sigurður Ingi coalition

After maintaining their majority in last Saturday’s election, the leaders of Iceland’s three governing parties are now discussing the possibility of extending their coalition for another term, RÚV reports. Left-Green Movement Chairperson Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Progressive Party Chairman Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, and Independence Party Chairman Bjarni Benediktsson met yesterday and today to discuss the potential for continued collaboration. The three have been tight-lipped as to the content of their talks, though they say no big decisions have been made.

Following last Saturday’s election, the Independence Party remains the largest in Iceland’s Alþingi, maintaining their 16 seats and 24.4% of the vote. The Progressive Party enjoyed the most gains of any party, winning five additional seats for a total of 13 (or 17.3% of the vote) while the Left-Green Movement lost three of their former 11 seats, earning 12.6% of the vote. These three parties, which formed Iceland’s previous governing coalition, now have a comfortable majority of 36 out of 63 seats.

Ministries may change hands

The shifts to the number of seats would imply that Ministries might shift between parties as well. In the previous government, the Left-Green Movement leader Katrín was Prime Minster and the party held two other ministries. The Progressive Party held three ministries while the Independence Party held the remaining five, including the Ministries of Finance and Justice. Bjarni stated yesterday that no decision had been made on which of the party leaders would be Prime Minister if a coalition were formed.

After a morning meeting between the three today, Katrín stated that the parties were still going over the main issues at this point. Bjarni stated that the parties “need some days to talk through particular issues,” while Sigurður Ingi stated “It’s a serious matter to prepare a government for an entire term.”

The trio decided to begin informal talks despite a controversial recount of votes in the northwest constituency, which has some politicians calling for a partial revote.

Parliamentary Election Results: Progressive Party Gains Five Seats

The results of the 2021 Parliamentary election was announced shortly after 9:00 AM on Sunday. The current three-party coalition government keeps their majority, with 37 MPs out of the total 63. 

The coalition to negotiate further cooperation

Voting booths for the Parliamentary elections closed at 10 pm on Saturday, and the results were announced shortly after 9 am on Sunday. Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s coalition – comprising the Left-Green Movement, the Independence Party, and the Progressive Party – will keep their majority. 

The Progressive Party enjoyed the greatest success relative to the 2017 election, gaining 13 seats in Parliament (five more than four years ago) and earning 17.3% of votes. The Independence party remains the largest party in Parliament, with 16 seats and 24.4% of the votes. The Left-green party had 12.6% of the votes and eight seats in Parliament. That’s three fewer than the last election; two MPs had, however, left the party during the last term.

Before the election, the leaders of the three parties stated that if the government kept its majority, their first choice would be to negotiate further cooperation. The leaders iterated this intention during a panel discussion on RÚV on Sunday. 

A win for the People’s Party

Besides the Progress Party, the People’s Party gained two more seats in Parliament, relative to the 2017 election. The party now holds six seats in Parliament. The Reform Party (Viðreisn) also gained an extra seat, now holding five seats compared to the previous four. The Pirates and the Social Democrats have six seats each.

The Centre Party, led by the former Chairman of the Progressive Party Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, suffered a heavy defeat on Saturday; the party lost four seats, now holding only three seats in parliament. Sigmundur Davíð was the only leader whose party has seats in Parliament who was absent from the RÚV panel on Sunday.

Polls had the socialist party taking a seat in Parliament, but they received only about 4% of the vote , which did not suffice to breach the 5% barrier to win a seat in Parliament. 

So close to a female majority

When the results of the elections were confirmed, news quickly spread around the world that Iceland had become the first European country to elect a female-majority Parliament. The celebrations were short-lived, however, as a recount on Sunday produced a result just short of historic.

The initial count had female candidates winning 33 seats, but the recount saw three seats ceded to men. As it stands, female candidates now occupy 30 seats of Parliament’s 63. This tally was previously reached during parliamentary elections in 2016. Nonetheless, with women constituting 48% of the total seats, this is the highest percentage for women lawmakers in Europe.

Latest Poll Suggests Government Could Cling to Power

According to a new poll, the coalition government could hold onto power by the narrowest of margins. The Progressive and Independence parties continue to gain in popularity while the Left-Green Movement remains in decline.

Election day tomorrow

The final polls in the lead up to tomorrow’s election suggest a tight race. According to a poll by Morgunblaðið and the market research company MMR, the coalition government could cling to power in the event of a marginal swing (the three parties willing). The Progressive Party, the Independence Party, and the Left-Green Movement would need 32 seats (out of 63) to win a majority. According to the data, the coalition is projected to win only 31 seats; however, the slightest change in outcomes could see the parties gain an additional one or two seats. (A poll conducted by Maskína suggests that the ruling coalition will fall slightly short of a majority.)

The centre-right parties gain while the left declines

As noted by an article in Mbl.is, the MMR pollsuggests that the Progressive, Reform, and Independence parties continue to gain significantly in popularity. The parties on the left, on the other hand, continue to decline; their support appears to have plateaued. The Social Democratic Alliance has lost all of the support that it gained over the past weeks, and the Socialist Party has been in sharp decline, as well. Last week, the Socialists were polling at around 9%, but that support has fallen to approximately 5%.

The People’s Party has gained considerable popularity, and the same holds for the Centre Party, although neither is close to double-digit support.

Forming a coalition could prove difficult

According to projections (predicated on three recent MMR polls), forming a coalition government could prove difficult. Fourteen different coalitions are possible: the Progressive Party is involved in all but one, and the Centre and Independence Parties feature in all four-party coalitions. Only a single three-party coalition could be formed, according to the poll: comprised of the Progressive, Reform, and Independence Parties. As noted by Mbl.is, however, it is unlikely that the parties would risk ruling with such a narrow majority.

Read more about the Parliamentary elections in Iceland here.