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Elections Planned in Iceland

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Elections Planned in Iceland

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Iceland will hold a parliamentary election this autumn, following the Panama Papers scandal which cost Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson his job.

The election—presumably roughly five or six months from now—was announced by the new Prime Minister, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson and Bjarni Benediktsson, Minister of Finance and leader of the Independence Party, last night. They refused to set a precise date for the election; saying that depends on the progress of several important government matters through parliament, RÚV reports.

The Independence Party side of the government will remain unchanged, and the Progressive Party side will not change much either, though that will be confirmed by Sigurður Ingi later today.

Sigurður Ingi moves from the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture to the Prime Ministry and ex-PM Sigmundur Davíð moves out of the government altogether. This leaves a spare ministerial seat.

Speculation last night was that Sigmundur Davíð had been insistent on bringing in an unelected expert to fill the spot until the autumn—almost certainly his personal economics advisor, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir. Indeed, news headlines yesterday were simply asking which ministry she would take over. Sigurður Ingi, however, has refused to confirm who the new minister will be or whether or not there will be a cabinet reshuffle. He said there may be some “surprises” and has promised to give more details today, which Iceland Review will bring you right away.

A meeting of the Council of State will take place at Bessastaðir, the presidential residence, at noon today. It is expected that Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson will officially resign as Prime Minister and the new government introduced. It is already confirmed that there will be no changes on the Independence Party side.

The Icelandic political establishment has been in turmoil since it was revealed on Sunday April 3 that three government ministers were implicated in the global Panama Papers scandal, relating to offshore businesses. The Icelandic PM decided to step aside from his role, though to remain an MP and the leader of his party. The other two implicated ministers remain and there is palpable public anger and calls from some for new elections right away.

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