Cabinet reshuffle for Icelandic government

The Icelandic government is set for a shake-up in the next few days; probably today or when parliament returns for the first day of the autumn term tomorrow. There will be two fewer ministers than at present.

Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir has spoken with all of her Social Democrat MPs yesterday and last night, reports.

Althingi’s General Committee submitted a bill yesterday that would change the organisation of ministerial powers and it is highly likely that the bill will become law during the September session of parliament which begins tomorrow.

According to the bill, the health ministry and the social affairs and insurance ministry will unite to form a Ministry of Welfare and the justice ministry and the transport and communications ministry will together become an Interior Ministry.

According to sources both of the country’s unelected ministers, Gylfi Magnusson (Minister of Trade) and Ragna Arnadottir (Minister of Justice), will be relieved of their duties. Both were drafted in to the government as experts in their fields following the banking collapse.

The controversial Ogmundur Jonasson is set to return to the cabinet for the Left Greens, and his party colleague Jon Bjarnason looks likely to remain in the cabinet despite calls from some for him to leave.

So that both government parties remain equal with five ministers each, the Left Greens would have to sacrifice one. The likeliest candidate to leave the cabinet is Alfheidur Ingadottir, the Minister for Health.

It is also thought Transport and Communications Minister Kristjan Moller will leave the cabinet.

Sources close to the government say that social affairs minister Arni Pall Arnason will remain in the cabinet and that Oddny Hardardottir will join for the Social Democrats.

There are currently 12 ministers, but the General Committee bill will see that number drop to ten. The committee is taking more time to work on its idea for an employment ministry which would see further mergers and the total number of ministers eventually drop to nine. It is assumed that the biggest of the two coalition parties would then hold a cabinet majority.

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