Monday

18th Dec 2017

Iceland Pirate party election gains but short of expectations

  • Iceland's prime minister resigned on Sunday following election results (Photo: smcgee)

Parliament elections in Iceland over the weekend saw the Pirate Party more than triple its seats to 10 but still fall short of early expectations.

The anti-establishment party tied for second with the Left-Green Party as the conservative Independence Party took pole position with 21 out of 63 seats in the world's oldest parliament.

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Polls leading up to the general election on Saturday (29 October) had initially suggested a stronger win for the Pirate Party in a move that would have spelled a major upset to traditional party systems.

But Pirate Party leader, poet and activist Birgitta Jonsdottir remained happy with the final results.

"Our internal predictions showed 10 to 15 percent, so this is at the top of the range. We knew that we would never get 30 percent," she was quoted as saying in Reuters.

The four-year old party has a strong following among the youth with aims to secure stronger digital rights, direct democracy, and greater government transparency.

The election also had its causalities.

Iceland's prime minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson on Sunday resigned following the dismal results of his centre-right Progressive Party.

The party was the biggest loser and saw its support plummet from 19 to 8 seats. Voters punished the party over corruption claims and links to the 2008 financial crash.

It is the second Progressive Party prime minister to step down this year.

Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was forced out in April following revelations from the Panama Paper leaks him and his wife owned a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The offshore company held millions in debts from failed Icelandic banks that had borrowed 11 times more than the country's entire GDP in the lead up to the 2008 financial meltdown.

Coalition blues

The conservative Independence Party, which has promised to lower taxes, will now be tasked to form a new government amid questions over possible coalition partners.

The final make-up of the new government remains unclear.

A new liberal and pro-European Regeneration Party is expected to be the kingmaker but has reportedly so far ruled out joining ranks with the Independence party.

It means a group of left-leaning parties may instead find a majority and shape a government.

With 30 MPs, Iceland's parliament now has the highest proportion of females in Europe

Analysis

Iceland's not-so-quiet revolution

In the space of three years, Iceland's main parties have seen their vote decimated, and new parties may well take almost half the electorate in Saturday's election.

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Ten years after its accession and a year before holding the EU presidency, the fastest-growing EU economy wants to "engage" more with its partners. But concerns over the rule of law continue to give the country a bad image.

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