Iceland’s PM: Optimistic after Talks with Left-Greens

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Iceland’s PM: Optimistic after Talks with Left-Greens

Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir said she is optimistic about solving the disagreement surrounding the European Union after a meeting with the Left-Green Movement. Formal talks to form the government began yesterday.

Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.

“I am more optimistic after I left the meeting than before I went inside. Many things have become clearer and I believe that we will find an acceptable solution on the EU matters,” Sigurdardóttir told reporters after the meeting, according to Fréttabladid.

Minister of Finance, Fisheries and Agriculture and chairman of the Left-Greens Steingrímur J. Sigfússon agrees. “There is a mutual and strong intent for cooperation at hand and I leave this meeting with greater optimism.”

Both Sigfússon and Sigurdardóttir have stated that the left-wing parties have an historic obligation to form a new government. The elections on April 25 were the first in Iceland’s history where left-wing parties received a majority of seats in parliament.

At the meeting, groups were formed to lead discussions on pressing issues, such as on the EU and changes to the administration.

The EU group is headed by the vice-chairpersons of each party, Dagur B. Eggertsson of the Social Democrats and Minister of Education Katrín Jakobsdóttir of the Left-Greens.

Minister of Health Ögmundur Jónasson of the Left-Greens and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Industry Össur Skarphédinsson of the Social Democrats have also been appointed to the EU group.

People will be appointed to the other group, on changes to the administration, today. In the coming days, groups that will lead discussions on economic and employment matters will also be formed.

Other issues that will be discussed are changes to the fisheries control system. Both parties included a recall of fishing allowances in their party platforms.

Chairpersons of both parties are keen on establishing a majority government and therefore are not under as much time pressure as they otherwise would be.

President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson confirmed this when PM Sigurdardóttir formally requested the authority to form the government at the presidential residence Bessastadir yesterday.

Grímsson said it was unnecessary to establish a time limit on when the parties should bring their talks and other projects to an end since their minority government ended up with a majority in parliament after the elections.

The interim Social Democrat-Left-Green coalition, which took power in February, had the backing of the minority of MPs in parliament and therefore had to rely on support from the Progressive Party.

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