Iceland’s incumbent Independence party could lead formation of new government

Iceland's parliamentary elections Saturday were not a complete domination from any one party, but it appears Independence, which gained 30 percent of the vote, will likely lead talks on forming the new government. Photo from EuroNews/YouTube

REYKJAVIK, Iceland, Oct. 30 (UPI) — No party took a clear majority in Iceland’s elections Saturday, though it appears the ruling Independence party may be in a position to lead talks on forming the country’s new government.

By giving Independence nearly 30 percent of the vote, voters chose continuity, along with support for the anti-establishment Pirate party, though the group fell short of expectations, The Guardian reported.

Once all votes were counted, the Pirates, formed four years ago by activists, anarchists and former hackers and an alliance with three other parties considered left-of-center, held 27 seats in Parliament.

Polls released Friday showed the Pirate party held about 47 percent of the vote, while the ruling center-right coalition had about 37 percent.

The Independence won nearly 30 percent of the vote, which was significantly more than opinion polls had predicted. Independence took 29 seats in Parliament, with its coalition partner, Progressive party.

The ruling Independence party said during its campaign that recent economic progress has earned it renewed support, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Independence leader Bjarni Benediktsson said it was “natural” for his party to lead talks to form the next government due to the strong election results.

In Iceland, the president makes the final call on who should lead the formation of the next government.

Voters appear to have been persuaded by the Independence party’s promise to restore the economy, shaken to its roots by the 2008 economic collapse. Iceland also continues to reel from documents leaked in April from the law firm Mossack Fonseca, known as the Panama Papers, which revealed that Progressive Party leader Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson previously held an undeclared stake in an offshore company.

Gunnlaugsson, denies any wrongdoing,though he resigned and was succeeded by ally Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson.

“I cannot deny that if the results stay this way … it would be natural that we are a leading party in the next government,” Benediktsson said. “We are gaining new seats in parliament, so we are very happy.”


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