Iceland’s Government Discusses Continued Coalition

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Iceland’s Government Discusses Continued Coalition

The leaders of the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement met yesterday at the home of Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir, prime minister and chairwoman of the Social Democrats, to loosely discuss matters concerning the European Union.

Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.

The Social Democrat and Left-Green parliamentary parties have been called together and formal formation discussions will begin today, Morgunbladid reports.

According to Morgunbladid’s sources, yesterday’s meeting only included general discussions on the policies of the two parties and how different attitudes towards the EU can be settled.

The Social Democrats want to apply for membership as soon as possible and the Left-Greens want to remain outside the union.

Sigurdardóttir and Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, minister of finance, fisheries and agriculture and chairman of the Left-Greens, debated the issue in an election chat program on RÚV yesterday.

“It will be the most difficult issue that we have to solve,” Sigurdardóttir commented. Sigfússon agreed, describing the EU question as a “big, difficult and unbridged controversial issue.”

As to emphasis their different views regarding the EU, the government leaders continued with a heated debate in the RÚV program.

As soon as the final results of yesterday’s elections were clear, the government leaders began discussing a continued coalition between their parties.

Around 3 pm the aforementioned meeting took place at Sigurdardóttir’s home. In addition to Sigurdardóttir and Sigfússon, the meeting was also attended by vice-chairman of the Social Democrats Dagur B. Eggertsson and his Left-Green counterpart, Minister of Education Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

Both parties agree that Sigurdardóttir will remain prime minister. After the meeting, Sigurdardóttir said that the discussions were on the right track. “It was a good meeting. We discussed matters from all perspectives and will continue to discuss them [today].”

The parliamentary parties of the Social Democrats and the Left-Greens meet today at 1:30 where their leaders will request authority to lead discussions to form the government, with the first formal meeting between the two parties scheduled for the afternoon.

Sigurdardóttir will then meet with President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to inform him on the progress of the discussions.

According to Morgunbladid’s sources, the Social Democrats are determined to persuade the Left-Greens to agree to applying for EU membership as soon as possible.

The Social Democrats are in a better position than the Left-Greens as Iceland’s largest party with the support of 29.8 percent of voters, while 21.7 percent voted for the Left-Greens.

Together the parties have a majority by five MPs, while before the elections they formed a minority government with the Progressive Party defending it from a vote of no confidence. Now they no longer need backing from any other party.

But the Social Democrats don’t have to form a coalition with the Left-Greens—other options are also possible. The most obvious options are either a coalition with the Progressive Party and the Civic Movement or with the Independence Party.

However, the last option is unlikely in light of a declaration made by Sigurdardóttir before the elections that a coalition with the Independence Party was out of the question.

Click here to read more about the results of the elections and here to read more about Iceland and the EU.