Around One Fifth of Voters Decided on Election Day

Among those who voted in the parliamentary elections in September, 22% decided for whom to vote on the day of the election or inside the voting booth, according to a new Gallup poll. 36% of those who voted for the Social Democratic Alliance made up their minds on election day.

Early voting never been more popular

According to a new Gallup poll, more voters cast early ballots during this year’s parliamentary elections compared to the years previous. Voters gave various reasons for casting their ballots early, among them poor weather, a global pandemic, encouragement by candidates, and more accessible absentee voting stations.

Despite one fifth of voters having made up their minds on the day of the election, more voters also decided for whom to vote more than a month before casting their ballots – when compared to recent elections:

43% decided more than a month before the elections
17% decided the week of the election
12% decided one to two weeks before election day
11% decided on the day of the election
10% decided in the voting booth or the voting station
6% decided three to four weeks before election day*

(99% of those who were polled responded.)

Group differences

According to the poll, men and women differed significantly in their decision-making, with more women than men making up their minds on election day. Similarly, more men than women decided for whom to vote more than a month before elections. Older voters were more likely to reach a decision early when compared to younger voters.

The poll also found that there was a significant difference between voters of different parties; those who voted for the Independence Party, for example, were by far the most likely to have reached a decision more than a month before the election.

When respondents were asked what parties they would prefer to partake in the coalition government, the Progressive party was mentioned most often (77%), followed by the Left-Green Movement (72%) and the Independence Party (57%).

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.

Parliamentary Elections 2021

The indecision stems, partly, from superabundance. A superabundance of letters and symbols and numbers – and the meagerness of time. For the undecided voter, the question becomes how to process the available information: how to translate the plethora of value statements and policy proposals and opinion pieces, authored by the various members of the various parties, into a coherent and votable whole.

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In Focus: Upcoming Parliamentary Elections

Photo by Golli

Icelanders will head to the voting booths on September 25, where individuals from the country’s various parties will vie for 63 seats from the country’s six constituencies: the Northwest (8), Northeast (10), South (10), Southwest (13), Reykjavík South (11), and Reykjavík North (11). The elections could mark the first time that women gain a majority […]

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“Election Observation Activity” Unnecessary, New Report Finds

Alþingi Icelandic parliament

The deployment of special “election observation activity” during the upcoming Parliamentary elections is not necessary, according to a report by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The authors of the report note that interviewees expressed “full confidence” in the integrity of the electoral process and in the election administration’s ability to organize professionally and transparently.

Invitation from the Permanent Mission

Following an invitation from the Permanent Mission of Iceland, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has published a Needs Assessment Mission (NAM), authored by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), regarding the upcoming parliamentary elections on September 25. The OSCE has previously published reports on Icelandic elections in 2013 and 2017.

The purpose of this year’s mission was to assess the “pre-election environment and the preparations for the elections” to determine whether to deploy ODIHR election-related activity. The authors of the report met with representatives of state institutions, election administrators, political parties, media, and civil society.

A few election-related issues

Among the election-related issues raised by the report’s interlocutors were the modernisation of the Constitution and the equality of the vote.

As noted in the report, several interviewees noted “a longstanding public request for modernisation of the Icelandic Constitution,” explaining the prolongation of the constitutional reform process with reference to the lack of political support to proposed changes.

Another long-standing issue raised by “most of the ODIHR NAM interlocutors” related to the equality of vote. Icelandic law provides that the National Election Commission (NEC) is to reallocate seats according to the D’Hondt method, whereby 54 seats are allocated at the constituency level with no electoral threshold, while the remaining nine seats are distributed at the national level among parties that exceeded the 5% nationwide threshold.

The report notes: “These nine ‘adjustment seats’ are intended as a measure to ensure proportional representation of parties at the national level. Notwithstanding this provision, some ODIHR NAM interlocutors opined that proportional distribution of seats is not sufficiently respected to the detriment of smaller political parties.” This issue was raised in the OSCE’s previous two reports.

Finally, “isolated concerns” were also raised regarding the regulatory framework and conduct of campaign, media and its oversight, although these concerns were not identified by stakeholders as having a significant impacting the upcoming elections.


The report concludes with the declaration that all interlocutors expressed “full confidence in the integrity of the electoral process” and in the ability of the election administration to “organize elections professionally and transparently.” On this basis, the ODIHR NAM does not recommend special observational activity for the upcoming Parliamentary elections. The report does, however, reiterate that many of its previous election-related recommendations remain valid, while emphasising its readiness to support the authorities in ongoing electoral reform.

Parliamentary Elections: Early Voting Begins Today

According to a presidential letter published yesterday, the formal dissolution of Parliament will occur on September 25 and elections will be held on the same day. Pre-election voting begins today.

Pre-election voting stations to open August 23

In a letter to Parliament published yesterday, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson announced that – as per the Prime Minister’s proposal – Parliament will be dissolved on September 25 and elections will take place on the same day.

In accordance with the Parliamentary Elections Act to the Althing, which mandates that pre-election voting “shall commence as soon as possible after the election date has been advertised but not earlier than eight weeks before election day,” early voting began this morning at the offices of the District Commissioner of Greater Reykjavík.

Speaking to Iceland Review, a service representative with the District Commissioner confirmed that early voting will take place at DC offices today and next week, that is, until pre-election voting stations are opened in the Kringlan and Smáralind shopping malls on August 23. The District Commissioners offices are located in Hlíðasmári in Kópavogur and are open between 8.20 am and 3 pm on weekdays (the offices close at 2 pm on Fridays).

COVID-19 regulations to be followed

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Sigríður Kristinsdóttir, District Commissioner of Greater Reykjavík, stated that COVID-19 regulations will apply at voting stations. Masks will be mandatory and social-distancing rules will apply. All voting equipment will be disinfected after use.

Voting applications for citizens who are self-isolating or in quarantine may be submitted five days before the day of the election.

Key issues

The key issues of this year’s general elections include the repayment of debts accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic, resolving the difficulty of funding nursing homes, ensuring the operational viability of the healthcare system (which has seen increasingly long waiting lists), whether or not to formally adopt a new constitution (as per a 2012 referendum in which a majority voted to adopt a new constitution based on a draft by the Constitutional Council in 2011), and tackling the global threat of climate change.

Earlier this year, 13 political parties registered for the upcoming elections, though a few of the smaller ones may not run. These parties include the so-called “Party of Four” (referring to the country’s four most established parties): the Independence Party, the Progressive Party, the Left-Green Party, and the Social Democratic Alliance. The two other “big” parties, the Pirate Party and the Reform Party, are also registered, along with a handful of smaller parties, including the Centre Party, the Socialist Party, and the People’s Party. Bright Future, Dawn, and the People’s Front of Iceland have all announced that they will not be running in this election.