Big changes ahead for Icelandic government

President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has called the National Council together this morning for its traditional New Year’s meeting. The Council is made up of the President and the government cabinet. It is widely expected that the sacking of two ministers will be announced after today’s meeting.

The government has decided to relieve Jón Bjarnason, the controversial and politically unpopular Left Green Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, of his duties. And to keep things even between the two coalition parties, Social Democrat Minister of Economic Affairs Árni Páll Árnason will also be let go from the cabinet — his ministry has been accused of being too similar to the finance ministry and the industry ministry to be necessary.

If the party leaders’ plan is agreed, as is likely, Left Green leader Steingrímur J. Sigfússon will become Minister for Economic Affairs, with duties gleaned from three existing ministries; and the Ministry of Finance will come into Social Democrat hands. The Minister for the Environment will also be given responsibilities from the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism in a new environment and natural resources ministry.

The changes will see the number of ministers in the cabinet go down by two.

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