New Mayor Takes Office in Reykjavík

Einar Þorsteinsson, city counsellor for the Progressive Party, was voted in as Mayor of Reykjavík at a meeting of City Council today.

Einar is serving his first term in the council after leading his party to its best result in Reykjavík to this day in the 2022 municipal election. He formed a coalition with the Social Democratic Alliance, the Reform Party and the Pirate Party. He’s served as chair of the City Executive Council since the election. Outgoing mayor, Dagur B. Eggertsson of the Social Democratic Alliance, will take over as chair until the end of the term, when he’s announced he will leave city politics behind.

From TV news to city politics

Einar is 45 years old and had a notable career as a TV news anchor and host of RÚV talk show Kastljós before entering politics in 2022. The Progressive Party had no representation in City Council in the preceding term, but Einar’s campaign received just under 19% of the total vote and four seats. As a result, the party was in a strong position to decide on how to form a majority, opting to join up with three of the four parties that formed the previous majority coalition. An agreement was made that Dagur would step down as mayor 18 months into the term to make way for Einar.

Ten year run as mayor

Dagur is the longest-tenured city councillor in Reykjavík and has been mayor since 2014. He entered City Council in 2002 as an independent member for Reykjavíkurlistinn, the centre-left alliance that ended the conservative Independence Party’s dominance in city politics. He later joined the Social Democratic Alliance and became vice-chairman of the party during Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir’s term as prime minister from 2009 to 2013. He has not ruled out a further career in politics and has been rumoured as a potential Alþingi candidate in the upcoming 2025 general election.

Formal Negotiations for Reykjavík City Council Begin

Einar Þorsteinsson

The Progressive Party has begun formal negotiations with the Social-Democratic Alliance, the Pirate Party, and the Reform Party on forming a governing majority on the Reykjavík City Council, RÚV reports. Under the leadership of first-time councillor Einar Þorsteinsson, the Progressive Party went from zero seats on the council to four following the May 14 municipal elections. Both Einar and incumbent mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson have stated they are not insistent on becoming mayor in the upcoming term: negotiations will focus on the issues before responsibilities are divided up.

Majority lost in election

Reykjavík’s four-party governing coalition of last term – consisting of the Social-Democratic Alliance, Reform Party, Pirate Party, and Left-Green Movement – lost two of its 12 seats in the election, and therefore its majority on the 23-seat Reykjavík City Council. The Social-Democratic Alliance and Reform Party both lost seats, the Left-Green Party held its single seat, while the Pirate Party increased its number of seats from two to three. As elsewhere in the country, the Progressive Party saw great success in Reykjavík, going from zero seats on the City Council to four. The Independence Party, while it received the largest proportion of the vote (nearly 25%), lost one seat, going from seven to six councillors.

Rule out coalition with Independence Party

As is normally the case for municipal elections in Reykjavík, no party won enough seats to form a majority on its own. While many different party coalitions are technically possible, several have been ruled out by party councillors, who are not willing to work with just anyone. The Left-Green Movement’s only councillor Lif Magneudóttir has stated the party will not participate in majority negotiations at all. The Pirate Party has ruled out a coalition with the Independence Party on political grounds, while the Social-Democratic Alliance, the Reform Party, and the Pirate Party have decided to band together in the negotiation process, ruling out a coalition that would include the Independence Party.

Socialist Party councillor Sanna Magdalena Mörtudóttir criticised the three-party grouping for negotiations, stating that the additional seats won by the Socialist Party and Pirate Party indicated voters were calling for a left-leaning city council, not a right-leaning one. The Socialist Party has refused to be in a majority government with the Reform Party, which it labels as a right-wing party.

“We see that the Reform Party speaks in favour of privatisation, outsourcing, and these market solutions, as was clearly stated in their election campaign. We Socialists speak for socialists and social solutions and very much in like with the emphases that should be expressed by the Social Democrats.”