On Saturday, Icelanders go to the polls for the second time in just over year. What’s happening?
1. What’s it for?
2. What voting system is used?
The voting system used to elect members to the chamber is a form of closed-list PR with several large constituencies, as well as top-up seats to result in near-perfect proportionality.
3. Who are the main political players?
The main parties standing in the election are:
- The Independence Party – a centre-right party - led by current prime minister Bjarni Benediktsson.
- The Left-Green Party, which are a left-of-centre party led by Katrin Jakobsdottir.
- The Pirate Party
- The Progressive Party
- The Reform Party
- The Bright Future
- The Social Democrats
- The People’s Party
- And the newly established Centre Party, led by a former prime minister (the one who resigned following the Panama papers scandal) Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson.
4. What happened in 2016?
In October 2016, the Independence Party won 21/63 available seats. The Left-Green Party and the Pirates got ten seats apiece. It took until January for a coalition to be formed – this time between the Independence Party, the centre-right Reform Party, as well as the liberal Bright Future Party.
5. Why is an election happening so soon after that?
According to the Telegraph, back in September the Bright Future Party pulled out of the coalition as a result of allegations that the PM “hid his father’s involvement in seeking a clean record for a convicted paedophile.”
As a result, the prime minister was forced to call fresh elections.
6. What do the polls say?
At the start of October, the Left-Green Party led in the polls, but they have since slumped and are only within a couple of points of the ruling Independence Party, however, the Social Democrats have picked up steam in recent weeks so it looks possible that a centre-left coalition could be on the cards. The new Centre Party led by the former prime minister looks set to enter the Althing for the first time.
7. Who is the country’s head of state?
The leader of the coalition formed after an election becomes prime minister, and resultantly Iceland’s head of government, but the country has a separate head of state, the president. Independent candidate Guðni Th. Jóhannesson won the election in 2016 with 39.1% of the vote to become the country’s sixth president.