Árni Páll Árnason Elected Social Democrat Chair

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Árni Páll Árnason Elected Social Democrat Chair

MP Árni Páll Árnason, former Minister of Economic Affairs, will take over from Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir as leader of the Social-Democratic Alliance, as announced at the party’s general meeting at 11:30 am today.

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Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir congratulates her successor Árni Páll Árnason as the new chair of the Social-Demorcratic Alliance. Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.

Árni Páll received 62.2 percent, or 3,474 votes, while his rival, Minister of Welfare Guðbjartur Hannesson, received 37.8 percent, or 2,115 votes. There were 32 empty ballots. A total of 5,621 of 18,318 registered members of the party participated in the election.

In his speech, Árni Páll said he was grateful for the trust he has been shown and thanked his predecessor. “No one but Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir could have taken on the difficult job of leading the country out of the crisis as she was the politician the public had the most faith in. Her work has been invaluable and I thank you.”

Árni Páll also thanked Guðbjartur for a fair and honest competition. Guðbjartur stressed that he would support Árni Páll wholeheartedly and encouraged his supporters to do the same.

Árni Páll stated important goals lie ahead and said he is not anxious about the campaign for the coming election in April. “The Social-Democratic Alliance is a realistic party which fights for its policies but does not give empty promises.”

“We don’t want any macho nonsense,” he went on. “No falsehood, no froth.” Árni Páll stated his first mission “is to find a way to continue working on the Social Democrats’ projects in the national government.”

In her last speech as the party’s chair yesterday, Jóhanna said she trusted Árni Páll and Guðbjartur equally to lead the Social Democrats, adding she believed the party would fare well in the coming election, stressing the importance of it remaining in the lead.

Jóhanna requested collaboration with the smaller parties, which, according to her, “will never carry out any changes to society, in spite of their good ambitions, if they cooperate with the Independence Party. The real fight in the election will be between the Independence Party and the Social Democrats.”

According to the results of a new Capacent Gallup poll, which were published after Jóhanna’s speech, the Social Democrats—which was the country’s largest party after the 2009 election—has now dropped to third place with a support rate of 16 percent.

Meanwhile, the new party Björt framtíð (‘Bright Future’; BF) jumped to second place after the Independence Party with 19 percent.

Another new survey, carried out by Stöð 2 and Fréttablaðið, gives a significantly different picture of the political landscape with the Progressive Party following the Independence Party with 21 percent, BF coming third with 16 percent and the Social Democrats lagging behind in fourth place with 12 percent.

Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir/Iceland Review  

Icelandreview.com will continue to monitor these political developments, the parties’ campaigns and the leadup to the 2013 parliamentary election.