Pirates and People’s Party Challenge Coalition Government

Cabinet of Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson

Inga Sæland, leader of the People’s Party, has submitted a motion of no confidence directed at the coalition government of Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson. The motion is co-signed by MPs from the Pirate Party.

The entire cabinet is the object of the motion, which also includes a clause calling for new elections for Alþingi, Iceland’s Parliament, this September.

Ministers not held accountable

“In our view, ministers have not been held accountable when they swap cabinet positions instead of resigning and admitting their violations in office,” Inga told Vísir. She added that Bjarni, who became prime minister last week after Katrín Jakobsdóttir resigned to run for the office of president, had left the ministry of finance last fall after failing to confirm to guidelines during the privatisation of Íslandsbanki bank.

“We also think it’s in bad taste that Svandís Svavarsdóttir, who as minister of food, agriculture and fisheries violated law and maybe even the constitution itself, has been promoted as well and is now minister of the interior,” Inga said.

Little hope of success

Inga said that she expects most, if not all, MPs from opposition parties to support the motion and hopes that it will be scheduled for debate as soon as tomorrow. She admitted, however, that the chances of the motion carrying were low.

“They have 38 MPs and they’re not going to vote themselves out of power,” she said of the coalition MPs from the Independence Party, Progressive Party and Left-Green Movement. Members of parliament in Alþingi are 63 in total.

She said that the motion was a symbolic gesture first and foremost. “Behind it stand some 40 to 50 thousand voters who have signed a petition to protest Bjarni Benediktsson becoming the head of the entire executive branch in the country,” Inga said, referring to an online petition started following the cabinet reshuffling.

78% Disapprove of New Prime Minister

Bjarni Benediktsson, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, and Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson

Nearly four of every five people surveyed said they disapproved of Bjarni Benediktsson, leader of the Independence Party, ascending to the office of the prime minister. According to a new poll by Prósent, only 13% said they approved of Bjarni, Heimildin reports.

Coalition reshuffling

Bjarni became prime minister a week ago following a cabinet reshuffling. Katrín Jakobsdóttir had resigned as prime minister and leader of the Left-Green Movement a week earlier to campaign for the office of president. Bjarni was prime minister briefly in 2017, but had otherwise been finance minister from 2013 to 2023. The Progressive Party rounds out the three-party coalition with elections set for next year when the term ends.

Online petition

78% of those surveyed by Prósent said they disapproved of Bjarni, with young people more likely to disapprove than older people. Women were also more likely to disapprove than men. In addition, 73% of those surveyed said they disapproved of the coalition government reshuffling. 14% said they approved.

An online petition was started after Bjarni’s return as prime minister, which has now been signed by 41,240 people expressing their disapproval of him. The number of signatures amounts to approximately 15% of all voters in Iceland.

New Presidential Poll Shows Reversal Between Baldur, Katrín

Katrín Jakobsdóttir Bjarni Benediktsson Sigurður Ingi Ráðherra

Latest polling figures indicate that professor of political science Baldur Þórhallsson and now-former PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir currently lead the race. Baldur stands at 25.8%, while Katrín stands at 22.1%.

The poll was conducted by market research company Prósent on behalf of Mogunblaðið.

A slight reversal from previous results

Polling last week showed Katrín with an advantage over Baldur, with 30% support over his 26%. This week’s polling seems to represent something of a switch between the two frontrunners.

However, given the proximity of the latest results and with plenty of time to go until the June 1 election, it seems it’s still a close race.

The poll was conducted from April 9 to 14, sampling some 2,300 individuals across Iceland.

Clear frontrunners, but still a crowded field

Following them is Jón Gnarr, an actor and former mayor of Reykjavík, with 16.8%. Following Jón Gnarr is Halla Hrund Logadóttir, director of the National Energy Regulatory, with some 10.6% in the latest poll. This makes four candidates with more than 10% support.

Three other candidates in the poll, Halla Tómasdóttir, Arnar Þór Jónsson, and Steinunn Ólina Þorsteinsdóttir, had levels of support under 5%, with the remaining candidates all falling under 1%.

It’s important to note, however, that the deadline for candidacy is April 26, so more candidates may yet announce their campaigns.

 

 

 

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.

Bjarni Returns as Prime Minister

Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson

Bjarni Benediktsson, current minister of foreign affairs and leader of the centre-right Independence Party, will become prime minister in the reshuffled coalition government following the departure of Katrín Jakobsdóttir from the office, RÚV reports.

Katrín announced last week that she would resign as prime minister and leader of the Left-Green Movement to campaign for the office of president, with presidential elections scheduled for June 1. This threw the future of her party’s coalition with the Independence Party and the centrist Progressive Party into uncertainty. A parliamentary election is scheduled for September next year, but the opposition has called for a snap election in light of these developments.

Bjarni’s return following privatisation scandal

At a press conference in Harpa concert and conference hall today, Bjarni announced that he would become prime minister. Bjarni was previously prime minister during a short-lived coalition in 2017 and finance minister for most of the period from 2013 to 2023. He resigned as finance minister in October of last year after the Parliamentary Ombudsman found that his role in the privatisation process of Íslandsbanki bank, which had been nationalised after the 2008 banking collapse, had not confirmed to guidelines.

He became minister for foreign affairs instead, with fellow party member Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir becoming finance minister in his stead. Þórdís will now move back to the ministry for foreign affairs, where she served previously.

Embattled Svandís switches ministries

Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, leader of the Progressive Party, will now become finance minister. Embattled Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir, who was set to face a motion of no confidence in Alþingi, Iceland’s Parliament, this week, will become minister of infrastructure. In January, the Parliamentary Ombudsman found that she had not acted in accordance with law when she temporarily banned whale hunting last summer.

Her fellow Left-Green Movement MP, Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, will take her place in the ministry of food, agriculture and fisheries.

The changes will be formalised at a meeting of the cabinet with President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson at 7 PM tonight.

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.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir to Campaign for Presidency, Leaving PM Post

Katrín Jakobsdóttir has announced her bid for President of Iceland

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has declared her intention to run for President of Iceland. She plans to request release from her prime ministerial duties to campaign and discuss the nation’s future with its citizens.

Requesting relief from her duties

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has announced her candidacy for the office of the President of Iceland. As noted by Vísir, Katrín said she will request to be released from her duties as Prime Minister on Sunday in order to campaign for the office. She will also resign as the Chairperson of the Left-Green Movement. Over the next few weeks, she plans to travel around the country and speak with citizens about the future.

In a video posted on social media today, Katrín stated the president needed to “understand the workings of politics and society, show leadership and humility, protect Iceland’s interests on the international stage, make difficult decisions independent of momentary popularity, and speak to the entire nation.”

After all, Katrín observed, the president was elected by the nation. Katrín also pointed out that we live in complicated times.

“Conflicts have increased worldwide. We face enormous challenges in climate and environmental issues. The pace of technological development is unprecedented, and it has never been more important to foster and protect humanity.”

In such times, it was important to focus on the basics: education, and culture.

“We need to ensure the Icelandic language, our anchor, while simultaneously guarding the diversity that characterises Icelandic society. In all these issues, the President has a role to play in clearly advocating the fundamental values upon which Icelandic society is built: democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Both at home and internationally.”

Running for a president not a given

In the video, Katrín noted that it was not a given that she, having engaged in politics for twenty years, would run for president. Although the experience would serve her well: “The experience I have in politics, the experience of bringing together different groups, and the understanding I have gained during this time, make me well-suited for this office,” Katrín noted.

Katrín also revealed that she had privately decided some time ago not to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections. She believes, however, that she can continue to be of service to the country and its people, hence her decision to run for president.

This article will be updated.

Prime Minister to Announce Decision on Presidential Bid Today

Katrín Jakobsdóttir

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir is expected to announce her decision on a potential presidential bid today, amid widespread speculation and a government meeting held early this morning. A political scientist has referred to the situation as “unprecedented.”

Expected to announce her decision today

A government meeting began at 8:30 AM in the Umbra building at Skuggasund in downtown Reykjavík, Mbl.is reports. There is much speculation about a possible presidential run by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, and she is expected to announce her decision today.

As noted by Mbl.is, many believe that Katrín will ask to be relieved of her duties for herself and her ministry if she decides to run. The coalition parties will then attempt to form a new government under another leader.

Parliament reconvenes on Monday after the Easter break, and by then, it is expected to be clear whether Katrín will proceed with her candidacy.

An unprecedented situation

“It is clear that this has never happened before in Icelandic politics,” professor of political science Ólafur Þ. Harðarson told RÚV earlier this week. Ólafur believes that a presidential bid by the sitting Prime Minister could cause all sorts of problems in the coalition government.

“Especially in a coalition partnership that has been as fragile as the current one has been for the last two or three years,” Ólafur noted, adding that he believes Katrín would not want to run for President of Iceland unless she has ensured that a peaceful solution is reached for the continuation of the government’s life. Instability in the government is simply not a good starting point for her possible candidacy.

“I believe she will do everything to avoid that, and from what I hear from the leaders of the Independence Party and the Progressive Party, they are very keen on resolving this matter peacefully,” Ólafur continued, highlighting that none of the governing parties wants to go to elections early. Additionally, it would signal disintegration if presidential and parliamentary elections were held simultaneously.

Sixty-eight individuals are currently gathering endorsements for presidential bids. As noted on IR, former mayor of Reykjavík and comedian Jón Gnarr announced that he would be running for president in a social media post earlier this week. Two new candidates have also tossed their hats into the ring: actress Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir and Guðmundur Felix Grétarsson. Political scientist Baldur Þórhallsson has been polling strongly.

Prime Minister’s Silence Fuels Speculation of Presidential Bid

The parliamentary leader of the Independence Party has convened a meeting to discuss the implications of a possible bid by the Prime Minister for President on the coalition government. The list of candidates gathering endorsements for the presidential bid currently numbers 63.

PM’s candidacy would impact coalition

Hildur Sverrisdóttir, the parliamentary leader of the Independence Party, will convene a meeting of the party’s parliamentary group today due to a possible presidential bid by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. In an interview with Mbl.is yesterday, Hildur stated that she believed it was more likely than not that Katrín would run for president.

“Yes, I can confirm that we will hold a parliamentary group meeting … even though Parliament is not in session. I feel it’s right to convene a meeting in light of this situation. Although nothing is confirmed yet, I think it’s natural for us to discuss among ourselves what a possible candidacy of the Prime Minister could entail,” Hildur observed.

When asked what impact Katrín’s candidacy would have on the coalition government, Hildur responded thusly: “It’s clear that it would have some impact on our cooperation, although Katrín has yet to confirm her candidacy.”

Like Eiríkur Bergmann, professor of political science at the University of Iceland, Hildur believes that there is a good chance that Katrín will announce her candidacy in the coming days: “Based on the time that has passed, I would personally think it’s more likely than not. But I have no more information on this than anyone else following this development at this point,” Hildur stated.

Eiríkur made a similar observation in a recent conversation with RÚV: “Since the Prime Minister is letting this discussion continue without denying it, we can conclude that she has a significant interest in running and that the chances are now greater rather than lesser that she will make a bid. Otherwise, she would have simply refuted it by now.”

More candidates announce their bids

As of today, 63 individuals are currently gathering endorsements for presidential bids. As noted on IR this morning, former mayor of Reykjavík and comedian Jón Gnarr announced that he would be running for president in a social media post yesterday. Two new candidates have since tossed their hats into the ring: actress Steinunn Ólína Þorsteinsdóttir and Guðmundur Felix Grétarsson.

Read More: The Right to Bear Arms (On Guðmundur Felix’s Arm Transplant Surgery)

Iceland President Cancels Ukraine Trip

President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson.

President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson cancelled a visit to Ukraine over safety concerns. The trip was scheduled for Easter Sunday, Mbl.is reports.

Security concerns

Among the events scheduled for President Guðni’s visit were a meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, followed by a ceremony for the two year anniversary of the Bucha massacre when Russian troops invaded the city. The president was to attend a conference following the ceremony.

Due to security concerns, the Ukrainian government cancelled the event. In the last few days, Russian troops have increased the number of missile and drone strikes, affecting energy infrastructure.

Presidential election coming up

President Guðni is enjoying his last few months in office, with a presidential election set for June 1. In his New Year’s Day address on January 1, he announced that he would not run again after two terms in office, totalling eight years.

Among the candidates are Baldur Þórhallsson, professor of political science, and Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO of B Team, while comedian Jón Gnarr is expected to announce today whether or not he will run. Among other rumoured candidates is Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.