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Iceland’s President Withdraws Candidacy

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Iceland’s President Withdraws Candidacy

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has just announced his decision to withdraw his candidacy for the presidency this summer, RÚV reports.

In his declaration, he says the nation can now “successfully choose a new president and I am, after being at Bessastaðir [the presidential residence] for a long time, ready in my heart and soul to happily move on to new tasks.” Ólafur Ragnar has served as president for 20 years this summer.

Yesterday, Ólafur Ragnar did not appear as determined as before about running for the sixth term this summer. In an interview on Stöð 2, he stated that the candidacies of historian Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and former PM Davíð Oddsson have changed the picture since he decided on April 18 to run for the presidency once more. Still, Ólafur Ragnar wouldn’t answer decisively what he intended to do, according to RÚV.

He said he undeniably had thought about the changes which have taken place since he decided to run. The great uncertainty prevalent in society at that point has now changed, he told Stöð 2. What also changes the picture, he said, is that Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, who knows the history of the presidency better than most, and Davíð Oddsson, one of Iceland’s most experienced politicians, have both announced their candidacies.

When asked directly, “Will you be on the ballot at the end of June? Yes or no?” Ólafur replied, “You just have to sincerely evaluate that, when such a situation presents itself, in light of what I’ve said, what I’ve thought and what I want, then I must sit down and take these changed circumstances into account. Still, I haven’t thought that thought to the end.”

A new poll by MMR, conducted May 6-9, shows Guðni Th. Jóhannesson with 59.2 percent support among voters, Ólafur Ragnar with 25.3 percent (down by from 52.6 percent since the last poll on April 27), writer Andri Snær Magnason with 8.8 percent support (down from 29.4 percent since the last poll). All other candidatescolectively received about 6 percent support.

There were 947 participants in the poll. Davíð Oddsson received 3.1 percent of the vote, but he didn’t announce his candidacy until yesterday, when ¾ of the data had already been collected, according to Vísir.

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