Olafur Ragnar Grimsson has changed the role of Icelandic president “forever”

Those who take up the role of President of Iceland in the future will not be put on a pedestal as before, according to Gudni Th. Johannesson, historian. He believes that the incumbent President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson has changed the role of president forever.

Around half of the Icelandic nation wants Grimsson to stand again in next year’s presidential election, according to a survey carried out for Stod 2 and Frettabladid.

The President enjoys the most support among voters of the Progressive and Independence parties and the least support from Social Democrat and Left Green voters. Only 27 percent of Left Green supporters like the idea of Grimsson standing again.

The historian Gudni Th. Johannesson says that is not at all surprising because the President has so recently sent the Left Green and Social Democrat-supported Icesave bill to a referendum.

“There is a lot about this which is very interesting. The Progressives see in Grimsson their prodigal son coming home. The Left Greens have turned their backs on the former head of the [now defunct] People’s Alliance [of which the Left Green Movement is a breakaway spliter]. And the Independence Party is thinking that the enemy of our enemy is our friend,” Johannesson explained.

When asked if he thinks the President was already thinking of next year’s election when making his decision on the Icesave bill, Johannesson responds: “He would never admit to that, but I think it could have been part of it. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson is an ambitious man and I wouldn’t be surprised if he decides to try and stay in power.”

He continues; saying that Grimsson has changed the post of president in Iceland forever. “He or she who wants to be president now must realise that the time for being a cultural president [a figurehead along the lines of an elected king/queen] like Kristjan Eldjarn or Vigdis Finnbogadottir is now over. Those who want to be president now must be ready for political fighting,” Johannesson says.