Leaders of the new Government of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Bjarni Benediktsson, signed their coalition agreement at Laugarvatn, South Iceland, on May 22. Iceland Review interviewed the new PM.
Published in the 2013 June-July issue of Iceland Review – IR 03.13. By Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
This location, this beautiful building in the countryside, is symbolic for what we stand for. Here we are in close contact with agriculture, tourism, education, youth work and geothermal heat—which was used for baking bread last night,” chair of Framsóknarflokkurinn (Progressive Party; PP) Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson opened his address to the press before he and Bjarni Benediktsson, chair of Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (Independence Party; IP), signed their coalition agreement in the old district school at Laugarvatn in South Iceland on May 22. Their government, with Sigmundur as prime minister and Bjarni as finance minister, formally took office the following day.
At 38, Sigmundur is the youngest PM in the history of the Republic of Iceland. Sigmundur also holds the record of being the youngest ruling democratically-elected state leader in the world—only Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un (30) and King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (33) are younger. “This is news to me,” Sigmundur smiles as I inform him of the record. “I find it interesting, of course. As prime minister, I will implement new work methods, listen to good ideas from different directions and think outside the box—although that doesn’t necessarily have to do with me being young.”
Sigmundur’s government comprises of four ministers from the PP and five from the IP, none of whom have held ministerial posts before. Such an inexperienced government has not ruled the country since Iceland’s independence from Denmark in 1944. Twenty-seven new MPs, of a total 63, were elected to Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, in the general election on April 27, 2013. Among them is 21-year-old farmer Jóhanna María Sigmundsdóttir of the PP, the youngest person ever to be elected to parliament in Iceland (see page 82).
You can read the remainder of this article in the June-July issue of Iceland Review – IR 03.13. Five times a year the print edition of Iceland Review & Atlantica brings you a wealth of articles on all aspects of life in Iceland including Páll Stefánssons latest images of the country’s majestic landscape. Click here to subscribe and here to view a selection of pages from the new issue.