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Iceland’s PM: Independence Party to Remain in Opposition

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Iceland’s PM: Independence Party to Remain in Opposition

Current Prime Minister and new chair of the Social Democrats Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir said in her speech at the party’s national convention yesterday that she wants to continue working with the Left-Greens in government and the Independence Party to remain in opposition.

Prime Minister and chairwoman of the Social Democrats Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.

Minister of Finance, Fisheries and Agriculture and chairman of the Left-Greens Steingrímur J. Sigfússon is pleased with Sigurdardóttir’s declaration—his party had come to the same conclusion. “It is in the same spirit as at our convention,” he told Fréttabladid.

Sigfússon said the declaration makes the decision for voters easier at the upcoming elections on April 25—the coalition options are very clear.

However, the Social Democrats and the Left-Greens disagree on one big issue: the European Union. The Social Democrats want to launch membership discussions with the EU as soon as possible and then let the nation decide on whether or not to join the EU with a referendum.

The Left-Greens announced in its platform one week ago that Iceland’s interests are best protected outside the EU. However, the Left-Greens are not against a referendum, which should take place after an informative and democratic discussion, as they concluded.

“I don’t feel that any doors have been closed on cooperation or the treatment of this matter,” Sigfússon said. “The political life in this country must be able to treat this big issue in a sophisticated, constructive and democratic manner.”

Former Foreign Minister and Chairwoman of the Social Democrats, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, bid her party members farewell as she stepped down as its leader last weekend, Morgunbladid reports.

She said that her gravest mistake had been not making a conclusive demand on changes to the administration in cooperation with the Independence Party during their coalition in government.

The Social Democrats had not followed their own conviction strongly enough, Gísladóttir admitted. She wished her successor, PM Sigurdardóttir, the best of luck in her role as the party’s and the nation’s leader.

Sigurdardóttir was elected chairperson of the Social Democrats with 97 percent of votes; no one ran against her.

Former Mayor of Reykjavík Dagur B. Eggertsson was elected vice-chair with 66 percent of votes. The other candidate, Árni Páll Árnason, received 34 percent. Eggertsson replaces Ágúst Ólafur Ágústsson, who resigned in January.

At the national convention, the Social Democrats agreed that the Icelandic Movement, which ran at the 2007 elections without earning a seat in parliament, would become a part of the Social Democrats.

Click here to read about the general meeting of the Independence Party and here to read about the general meeting of the Left-Greens.

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