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Inauguration of New President

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Inauguration of New President

President elect Guðni Th. Jóhannesson raises the flag this morning. Photo: Eliza Reid

On Monday at 16.00 the newly elected president of Iceland will take office. Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, who will be Iceland’s sixth president, was born June 26, 1968, making him the youngest president Iceland has ever elected. He holds a PhD in history from Queen Mary University of London.

Guðni has written a number of books, including one on the presidency of his five predecessors. During the campaign he stated that he would be different from Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who retired at midnight after 20 years. The post is mostly ceremonial, but the president has opportunities to state his views on various subjects.

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson was much more active in politics than the other presidents have been. He was quite close to the business leaders who played a big role in Iceland before the economic downfall of Iceland, leading to the nickname as “cheerleader of the business elite”. He spoke enthusiastically about what made Icelanders better businessmen than those from other countries. He and his wife were frequent flyers on private jets of Icelandic business magnates, while that lasted. Later he had taken to using public speeches to expressing his opinions on various political issues.

Guðni is an associate professor at the University of Iceland. His wife is Eliza Reid, originally from Canada. They met during their student years at Oxford University. She is a journalist and business owner. Together, they have four children, ages 3-8, but Guðni also has a 22-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

In addition to working as associate professor, Guðni has published numerous works on history, including works on the Cod Wars and the Icelandic presidency.

The public is invited to Austurvöllur. The ceremonies start with a mass at 15.30 in the Dómkirkja, the church next to the Parliament building. After the mass the group will move over to the Parliament building and the new president will take office. He will then step out to the balcony for a declaration of allegiance to Iceland. After that he returns inside and gives his first speech as leader of the country.

The president elect woke up early this morning and raised the flag at his private homer, clad in the Icelandic national soccer team’s shirt.

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