Iceland election results: Voters oust conservative government, paving way for leftist coalition

The snap election was called following a paedophile scandal

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Monday 30 October 2017 17:09
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Voters go to a polling station in the city hall in Reykjavik
Voters go to a polling station in the city hall in Reykjavik

Icelandic voters have ousted their centre-right government and paved the way for a possible left-wing coalition after a snap election this weekend.

The governing coalition of the Independence Party and Reform Party lost eight of its 28 seats, putting the existing arrangement well short of a majority.

Meanwhile both the Social Democrats, the Left-Green Movement, and newcomers the Centre Party all gained seats.

Coalition negotiations are set to be complicated, however, with eight parties in parliament and at least four required to form a majority without the Independence Party.

Such a coalition would include the Left-Greens, Social Democrats, centrists, and liberals, or could rely on the Pirate Party or other smaller liberal parties.

The Independence Party, which has governed Iceland almost continuously since the country gained independence, could also potentially still hold on in government with the right deal, having still won the most seats despite losses.

Left-Green leader Katrin Jakobsdottir said on Sunday: “The opposition has a majority, so that’s a message.

“But we’ve also talked about that maybe things should be done differently and create a broader government.”

Katrin Jakobsdottir leads the Left-Greens and could be the country’s new prime minister (Getty)

Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson called the election after it emerged his father had written a letter saying a convicted paedophile should have his “honour restored” – triggering a scandal.

The government was accused of a cover-up after it refused to disclose who had written the letter. Under the Icelandic legal system such a letter of recommendation can lead to a convicted criminal having certain civil rights restored.

In this case, the letter related to Hjalti Sigurjon Hauksson, who in 2004 was convicted of raping his step-daughter nearly every day for 12 years from the age of five.

The incident comes amid a backdrop of extremely low trust in Icelandic politicians.

In the 63-seat parliament, the Independence Party won 16 seats on 25.2 per cent of the vote, the Left-Greens won 11 seats on 16.9 per cent of the vote, and the Progressive Party won 8 seats on 10.9 per cent of the vote.

The Social Democrats and Centre Party won 7 seats each, the Pirate Party won 6 seats, while the People’s Party and Reform Party won 4 seats each.

The liberal Bright Future party, which previously participated in the government but left it earlier this year, was wiped out.

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