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Guðni Bows to Pressure, Stands for President

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Guðni Bows to Pressure, Stands for President

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

Guðni with his family at the press conference in Kópavogur. Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

Associate Professor of History, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, has formally announced he is standing in this June’s presidential election. He announced on Sunday that he would hold a press conference yesterday, which was a public holiday in Iceland.

As soon as his press conference was announced, most people guessed the reason and he immediately became incumbent President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson’s closest rival in the race—even before his candidacy was formally announced.

“The President should have close links to everyone in the country,” and not in league with this or that person, Guðni said.

“The president must concern him/herself with the revision of the constitution. It must contain the provision that a set proportion of the electorate can demand a referendum on a controversial issue. Direct democracy does not involve needing to flock to Bessastaðir with a petition in one hand and a burning torch in the other, begging for the opportunity to vote on matters that concern us.”

Guðni said that other changes also need discussion and conclusion, RÚV reports. “Discord is in fact the hallmark of an advanced society. We must be able to argue, even harshly, whilst respecting the rules of engagement and coming to a conclusion. So it is also the case that constitutional amendments are meaningless if leaders break the trust and confidence of the people. We, the people of this country, do not ask for much. We do not ask for a perfect society, perfect leaders. We ask simply that leaders in our community are honest, keep their word and have nothing to hide.”

Guðni said at the end of the meeting that he is looking forward to talking with people all over the country.

The latest opinion poll puts support for Ólafur Ragnar at 45 percent, Guðni Th. on 38 percent, and Andri Snær Magnason on 11 percent.

In the name of transparency, it is worth noting that Guðni’s wife, the possible future First Lady of Iceland, is former long-term Iceland Review staff writer Eliza Reid. This will not bias our coverage of the presidential election.

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