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Coalition Promises To Establish New Tone

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Coalition Promises To Establish New Tone

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, chairman of the Leftist-Green Movement, will be Prime Minister.Photo: Golli

The coalition agreement between the Independence Party, the Leftist-Green Movement and the Progressive Party was signed earlier this morning and proposes “reinforcing the capacity of the Althingi.”

The three parties, all of which come from different political spectrums will “establish a new tone”, according to the agreement. It also states that they will “concentrate their energies to key projects that will bring Iceland into the front rank and take steps that will make Iceland a good place to live for young and old alike.”

Below are a few excerpts from the agreement, which can be read fully here.

Healthcare

Iceland’s healthcare system should stand comparison with the world’s best. All people in Iceland should have access to quality services, irrespective of their financial standing and where they live. Primary health clinics will be given greater support as the first destination for those using the service. Work on construction of a new treatment centre in Landspítalinn (the National and University Hospital) will begin next summer.

Education

An effective educational system is a precondition for progress, and the government proposes to launch a major campaign in this area. Creative and critical thinking, literacy and participation in democratic society will continue to be the foundation of the Icelandic school system. Great priority will be given to improving education in Iceland with the interest of pupils and society at large as the guiding principle. Innovation and development must be supported at all levels of the educational system, as education will be a core element in innovation in the future. The aim is that Iceland should attain the OECD average as regards funding of university education in 2020 and the Nordic average by 2025.

Taxation

The wage increases of the past few years, together with larger pension premium contributions by employers and a stronger exchange rate, have reduced the competitiveness of Icelandic business enterprises, particularly in export industries. It is vital that the government and the labour market seek ways of improving the competitive position of Icelandic industries while at the same time continuing to improve wages and terms for the general public in the rounds of collective agreement negotiations that lie ahead. In order to promote a positive outcome, the government intends to make it a priority to reduce the lower rate of income tax. The reduction of social insurance tax during the electoral period will also be one of its priorities.

Tourism

A long-term policy on tourism will be laid out in collaboration with players in the tourist industry and with sustainability as the guiding principle. From the point of view of environmental protection and regional economic activity, it is desirable that the flow of tourists to Iceland should be dispersed more evenly across the country. Regional marketing authorities must be given support. Priority will be given to identifying capacity limits as regards the natural environment, the local community and the economy. The need for access control at tourist attractions which are publicly owned or under public administration must be assessed, in addition to which declarations of protected area status could be used to reduce pressure on vulnerable sites. The work that has already been begun on resolving clashes of interest between the tourist industry and laws governing the right to access to land must be concluded.

Climate issues

In its policy on climate, Iceland is guided by the goal of the Paris Agreement of 2015 to limit the average increase the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere to 1.5°C from the reference level. The main aim of the government’s climate policy is to avoid negative effects of climate change on marine life. In no other part of the world has the temperature risen as much as it has in the Arctic.

International affairs

Europe and terms of trade Nordic cooperation will continue to be one of the cornerstones of Iceland’s foreign policy. Iceland’s interests are best served by remaining outside the European Union. The government considers that one of the most vital interests for Iceland is to give its fullest attention to the implementation of the EEA Agreement, and that the Althingi should be more involved in this regard. The government intends to increase the country’s contribution towards development aid over the coming years and aims that this should reach 0.35% of GDP in five years’ time.

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