The coalition forged among the Social Democrat, Left-Green, Progressive Party and Liberal Party on the Reykjavík City Council was terminated yesterday when Liberal councilman Ólafur F. Magnússon, who had been on sick leave, announced his cooperation with the Independence Party.
The old coalition only lasted 102 days and was formed after Progressive Party councilman Björn Ingi Hrafnsson announced that he could no longer work with the Independence Party because of the Reykjavík Energy Invest (REI) debate.
Mayor Vilhjálmur Th. Vilhjálmsson of the Independence Party was forced to step down and Dagur B. Eggertsson of the Social Democrats took his place.
Now, Ólafur F. Magnússon of the Liberal Party will become mayor for about one year and then Vilhjálmsson plans to replace him and return to his post as Mayor of Reykjavík and remain in that post until the end of this term, or until 2010, as the new Reykjavík City coalition announced at a press conference yesterday.
“We can assure you that this majority coalition rests on solid ground, based on the issues,” Magnússon said at the press conference. Magnússon and the Independence Party began discussing the possibility of terminating the Reykjavík City coalition last weekend, but they didn’t reach an agreement until yesterday at noon. They announced their decision at 7 pm, Fréttabladid reports.
“This came as a complete surprise,” said outgoing Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson. “Truth be told, I cannot ever remember an instance of the majority coalition being overturned without a reason. We have reviewed the [domestic] airport issue, having a bi-level intersection at Kringlumýrarbraut and Miklabraut, and housing issues. And the Independence Party has recently been critical of Ólafur as well.”
Magnússon said there had been disagreement within the Social Democrat, Left-Green, Progressive Party and Liberal coalition regarding whether the old street image on Laugavegur should be protected or not.
The Independence Party almost had enough councilpersons elected in the last Reykjavík City Council elections in 2006 to have a pure majority. They lacked only one representative from another party to form a coalition.
But that person also has the power to collapse the majority coalition if he or she chooses to work with the other parties, which is what Hrafnsson did last October and Magnússon did now as the only representative of the Liberal Party within the multi-partisan coalition.
Magnússon was on sick leave last October when his substitute Margrét Sverrisdóttir decided to form a coalition with the Social Democrats, the Progressive Party and the Left-Greens.
Sverrisdóttir declared yesterday that she does not support Magnússon’s decision now, so if he falls ill again, she has the power to collapse the new Independence Party-Liberal Party coalition.
Click here to read about the last time the Reykjavík City coalition was collapsed.