How can I vote in the next Icelandic presidential election?

iceland election

With a presidential election coming up on June 1, it’s a great time to briefly brush up on who can vote in Iceland, where to vote, and how.

Who is eligible to vote?

Icelandic citizens who have reached the age of majority (18) by election day and are legally registered in Iceland are eligible to vote in the presidential elections.

Besides these conditions, there are some special cases to briefly consider.

An Icelandic citizen who has been legally registered in Iceland has voting rights for sixteen years from the time they move domicile from the country. After that period, they must apply to be re-registered to Registers Iceland.

A special consideration also exists for Danish citizens who resided in Iceland prior to its formal independence. So if you are a Danish citizen and were registered as living in Iceland March 6, 1946, or at any time during the last 10 years before that time, you are also eligible to vote for the next Icelandic president.

Read more on the official government website.

Note that these conditions are for parliamentary and presidential elections, in addition to national referendums. Different rules apply for municipal elections, where foreign residents are still eligible to vote if they have been registered to Iceland for three years or more. Slightly different rules also apply to citizens of other Nordic nations.

Where can you vote?

Your polling station will be determined by your residence as stated to Registers Iceland. At their website, you can enter your civil registration number (kennitala) and find where you polling station will be.

Remember that the 2024 presidential elections will take place June 1.

Do I need to bring anything to the polling station?

Yes, Icelandic law does require voters to present identification before voting. This can be in the form of a driver’s license, passport, or civil identity card. Electronic identification is also accepted, so if you have it set up, your phone will be sufficient (though it doesn’t hurt to bring additional identification, just in case).

I will be abroad. Can I still vote?

If you will be travelling or otherwise unable to vote on election day, it is still possible to vote at the district commissioner’s office or at Holtagarðar, if you live in the capital region. Read more here.

If you are an Icelandic citizen registered as living abroad, you will need to contact an Icelandic embassy or consulate. A list of Icelandic embassies and consulates is available here.

I have special circumstances. Can I still vote?

If you are sick and in hospital, in a nursing or residential home, imprisoned, or otherwise unable to make it to a polling station, it is still possible to vote. More information here.

Voting at home is also permitted in cases of illness, disability, or childbirth. Special permission must be applied for no later than two days before elections. Read more.

 

Iceland Abstains from UN Gaza Vote, Causing Tension

Katrín Jakbosdóttir, Bjarni Benediktsson Ríkissjórn Alþingi

Iceland abstained from voting on a ceasefire in Gaza at an emergency meeting of the United Nations General Assembly last Friday. The decision contradicts Iceland’s foreign policy on Palestine and the policy of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s party, the Left-Green Movement. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir says she was not consulted on the decision.

Katrín told RÚV that she was not consulted before the vote, adding that the decision to abstain from voting is in opposition to Iceland’s official stance on the conflict. “Iceland’s stance was totally clear before the vote, it was that we support a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons,” Katrín Jakobsdóttir told RÚV. She added that it was also her personal stance and that of her party.

Support for Palestine among Icelandic public

Iceland was the first Western country to officially recognise Palestine’s independence and support for the Palestinian cause is relatively strong among the public in Iceland, in part thanks to the work of the Iceland-Palestine Association, founded in 1987. Many locals in Iceland have expressed disappointment and anger at the decision to abstain from the UN vote on a ceasefire. Several public protests have been held in Iceland in support of a ceasefire since the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas began.

Divisions within governing coalition

Iceland abstaining from the vote on a ceasefire is yet another example of how divided the parties within Iceland’s governing coalition are, Professor of Political Science Eiríkur Bergmann told RÚV. The governing coalition consists of PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s Left-Green Movement; the Independence Party led by Bjarni Benediktsson, currently Minister for Foreign Affairs; and the Progressive Party, led by Infrastructure Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson.

As Foreign Affairs Minister, Bjarni Benediktsson bears responsibility for the UN vote. Bjarni resigned from the position of Finance Minister earlier this month following criticism of his handling of the sale of state-owned bank Íslandsbanki. Following his resignation, his fellow Independence Party MP Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir took over as Finance Minister, while Bjarni took over her position as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Three governments in Iceland

“This is, of course, a very unusual issue, that there has been such a rift in the government over an issue this serious,” Eiríkur stated. “But, of course, this reflects what we have been seeing for a long time now, that there are actually three governments in the country. Each of the three political parties deals with the affairs of their [ministry], and the Independence Party manages foreign affairs, and it is therefore its policy that determines Iceland’s position in this matter, not the policy of other governing parties.”

Vote on New Mediating Proposal Closing, Results Expected Soon

A vote on the temporarily-appointed state mediator’s new proposal will end at 10 AM today. The results of the vote are expected to be in shortly thereafter.

Results expected shortly after voting closes

On March 1, temporarily-appointed state mediator Ástráður Haraldsson called a press conference to announce that representatives from the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) and the Efling union had agreed to vote on his new mediating proposal. While voting took place, all ongoing and impending strikes and lockouts were to be postponed.

Voting began at noon, Friday, March 3, and it is set to conclude at 10 AM this morning.

As previously noted, the new wage agreement between Efling and SA, as provided by the proposal, would be fully retroactive from November 1, 2022, and salary increases would be tantamount to those stipulated in agreements signed by other unions. The contract would, however, differ in two respect from other similar contracts: a new job title for general hotel staff (i.e. almennt starfsfólk gistihúsa) would be created and drivers of the oil companies and Samskip would receive additional hazard pay.

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Chair of the Efling union, has stated that she would vote in favour of the proposal.

The website of the Office of the State Mediator notes that the wage rates in the main collective agreement will increase between ISK 35,000 ($246 / €233) and ISK 52,258 ($368 / €349) ISK per month, the average increase being about ISK 42,000 ($295 / €280). The relative increase in wage rates is between 9.5% and 13%, with the average increase being over 11%.

This article will be updated.

Sólveig Anna Announces Candidacy for Efling Chair

Anna Sólveig Jónsdóttir Efling Union

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, who resigned as Efling’s Chairperson in October, has decided to resubmit her candidacy for the position, RÚV reports. Elections for a new board and chairperson will begin on February 9 and will end on February 15.

Resubmission of candidacy

In October of last year, Efling Union Chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir resigned. Her departure followed on the heels of accusations of workplace bullying, as alleged by union staff in letters of no-confidence to her, the union, and Icelandic media.

Sólveig Anna subsequently denied the allegations, and after her resignation, union members stated, in another letter to the media, that what they had wanted was solutions – and not resignations.

Following these events, Efling voted in its first chair of foreign origin (on a short-term basis): Agnieszka Ewa Ziółkowska, who previously served as vice-chair of the union.

“Numerous encouraging messages”

Elections for a new board and chairperson will commence on February 9 and will end on February 15. So far, two other candidates have announced their intentions to run: Ólöf Helga Adolfsdóttir, Efling’s current vice-chair, and Guðmundur Baldursson, Efling board member.

In an interview with RÚV, Sólveig Anna remarked that she had decided to submit her candidacy in light of the “numerous encouraging messages” that she had received from union members. Despite these positive messages, Sólveig added that her decision had required careful deliberation: “I still spent a lot of time weighing the prospect, but in the end, having discussed it with good people, we reached this conclusion.”

Sólveig Anna will be campaigning under the banner of Baráttulistinn (the Fight List), and states that she is prepared for the campaign: “I’m certainly ready for the fight. Since I first assumed chair of the union, in 2018, I’ve been prepared to fight. Efling has made tremendous strides; we managed to transform this colossal bureaucracy, which enabled the continuation of low-wage policies, into the most powerful tool wielded by Icelandic workers.”

Iceland’s second largest labour union

As noted in an article in Iceland Review last year, Efling is Iceland’s second-largest labour union, with around 27,000 members working in public service, healthcare, and other industries. Sólveig Anna became Efling’s chair in 2018 and led wage negotiations and strikes among City of Reykjavík employees and hotel workers calling for better wages and working conditions for low earners. More than half of Efling’s members are of foreign origin.

Parliament to Decide Whether Revote is Necessary

parliament Alþingi

The National Electoral Commission of Iceland has not received confirmation from the Northwest constituency’s election supervision committee that the handling of ballots had been satisfactory, RÚV reports. A recount of votes in the constituency has been criticised for not following regulations, leading some to call for a revote. According to the constitution, it is Iceland’s newly-elected Parliament that must rule on whether the election results stand.

Read More: Two Politicians Call for Revote After Recount Shuffles MPs

Iceland held a Parliamentary election last Saturday, September 25. Election officials in the northwest constituency decided to do a recount of votes on Sunday as the ballot numbers were very close between MPs. The recount did not change the distribution of seats between parties, but ousted one MP each from the Social-Democratic Alliance, Left-Green Movement, Reform Party, Pirate Party, and Centre Party for another of their fellow-party members.

The results of the constituency’s recount differed greatly from that of the initial count, resulting in a different number of blank and spoiled ballots as well as differences in the number of votes for individual candidates. Ballots in the region were not sealed after the initial count and were left unattended (though in a locked room), and candidates were not informed before the recount began: both breaches of regulation. This has caused some to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election and even call for a revote in the constituency.

Ball in Parliament’s court

Kristín Edwald, the director of the National Electoral Commission, stated that the Commission had requested confirmation from the northwest constituency that the ballots had been handled in a satisfactory manner. That confirmation has not been received, and the ball is now in the Parliament’s court to decide whether the election results will stand. Kristín referred to the 46th article of the constitution, which stipulates that the Alþingi itself decides whether members of parliament have been elected according to law.

Nurses Vote on Strike Action in Iceland

Nurses Hospital Landsspítalinn við Hringbraut

The Icelandic Nurses’ Association (FÍH) has invited its members who work in the public healthcare system to vote on strike action. Nurses have been without a contract for over a year, and voted down a contract signed by FÍH and the state in April. Continuing negotiations between the two parties have not proven successful.

Electronic voting began yesterday and members will have until this Friday at noon to cast their votes. Around 2,500 nurses that work in the public healthcare system are eligible to take part.

Nurses are voting on a general strike that would begin on Monday, June 22, if a contract is not agreed upon by that time. The strike would impact all state-run healthcare clinics and institutions as well as other public institutions that employ nurses.

Read More: Two-Thirds of Nurses Prepared to Strike

According to a survey conducted May 7-10, nearly half of nurses are prepared to go on a general strike (49.6%) and 32.5% are prepared to go on an overtime strike. The survey results also revealed that nurses’ biggest issue with the proposed contract was that it did not raise their base salary enough.

Merge to Form Largest Municipality in Iceland

east iceland consolidation

Four East Iceland municipalities will be consolidated to form the largest municipality in the country. Residents of Fljótsdalshérað, Borgarfjarðarhreppur, Seyðisfjarðarhreppur, and Djúpavogshreppur voted on Saturday to consolidate the four municipalities under a single local government. The new municipality will be the largest in Iceland geographically, with an area over 11,000 square kilometres (4,250 square miles) and will contain around 5,000 residents.

Voter turnout was relatively high in all four municipalities. Djúpavogshreppur had the highest voter turnout at 78%, followed by Borgarfjarðarhreppur at 71.6%, Seyðisfjarðarkaupstaður at 70.7% and Fljótsdalshérað at 53.6%. Though Fljótsdalshérað showed the lowest voter turnout, residents there were the most supportive of consolidation, with 92.9% voting for merging the four municipalities. Voters were supportive of the merger overall, with 86.7% voting for in Seyðisfjarðarkaupstaður, 64.7% in Borgarfjarðarhreppur, and 63.7% in Djúpavogshreppur.

The municipalities plan to hold elections next spring for the new local council. One of the council’s first tasks will be to choose a name for the new municipality. A press release on Seyðisfjarðarkaupstaður’s website says it is likely residents will be given the chance to suggest names and vote from a shortlist.

While the council will have 11 representatives who are responsible for the entire muncipality, each of the four regions will also retain a council of three members with more localised authority. The concept is built on experimental provisions on governance in 2011 legislation concerning local government. This will be the first time the provision is applied.

Around 700 Workers Have Voted on Strike

Efling mobile polling station

Some 700 Efling Union members have voted on a planned hotel workers’ strike, RÚV reports. The proposed one-day strike would occur on March 8, applying to Efling Union members who work in cleaning, housekeeping, and laundry services in hotels and guest houses in the Reykjavík capital area as well as some nearby municipalities. Polls close at 10.00pm tonight.

Though Efling has not been officially tracking the number of votes coming in, Víðar Þorsteinsson, the union’s managing director, says some 700 members have voted. “We are happy because this is around the number that would go on strike,” he stated. Voting has been taking place online, at Efling headquarters, and in a mobile polling station driven between workplaces.

After wage negotiations broke down between SA and workers’ unions last week, Efling Union began to prepare for strike action. Some 8,000 of the union’s members were invited to vote on the March 8 strike, which would affect around 700 workers.