Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson announced on Tuesday that Progressive Party MP Sigrún Magnúsdóttir would join the cabinet as minister for the environment. Until now, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson has also served as minister for the environment.
The decision came as a surprise as many had predicted that Vigdís Hauksdóttir, who is the party’s second MP for the Reykjavík South constituency, would be appointed to the position. She had earlier expressed her wish to become minister. Sigrún, however, is the party’s seventh MP for the Reykjavík North constituency, ruv.is reports.
Sigmundur explained that he had discussed the appointment with Vigdís, who had emphasized that the new minister should come from Reykjavík, and that she herself had suggested Sigrún for the position.
“I hadn’t expected it but I find the appointment very pleasing,” Sigrún told RÚV. “I will fight for good treatment of the land and ocean and then there are the climate issues—the projects are all around.”
Sigrún, who turned 70 in 2014, is the country’s oldest serving MP and the oldest Icelander to be appointed minister. If she serves until the end of this term, she could also become the oldest person to serve as minister in the history of Iceland.
Sigrún’s husband, Páll Pétursson, served as minister of social affairs from 1995 to 2003. They are the first couple to have served as ministers in Iceland, visir.is reports.