Women performed poorly in the Independence Party primaries in Iceland last weekend. One of them, Minister of Industry and Commerce Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir landed in fourth place in the South Iceland constituency, where she had hoped to lead the list of candidates. That disappointing performance caused her to announce on her Facebook page that she will be leaving politics at the end of this term.
Helga Dögg Björgvinsdóttir, leader of the National Association of Independence Party Women, who was interviewed on RÚV’s Rás 2 radio this morning, believes women’s position in the Independence Party is worse than in other political parties in Iceland. She suggests the possibility of the formation of a new conservative women’s party.
She has no one explanation for women’s poor showing in the primaries, which, she admitted, might not be the best way to set up a list of candidates, although it may be the most democratic one.
There is a provision, she pointed out, in party rules which names gender equality as one of the party’s core values and which stipulates that this value must be taken into account when drawing up a list of candidates. This could possibly allow for the lists to be changed following the primaries. Besides, no list of candidates is valid until approved by members of the party’s central committee. “Certain members of the central committee said [on social media] that they would not approve the lists without changes,” she asserted.
Helga Dögg added, “I don’t know whether there are stronger male values in the Independence Party [than elsewhere] in some ways, but women have faced a tough battle.”
Independence Party MP Elín Hirst asked on Facebook, “Is a female party the answer?”
Helga Dögg has heard the issue discussed: “Elections are coming up soon, and we must hurry. But, yes, I think it’s a possibility, if powerful women unite, that we could see something like that happen.”