Iceland to vote in presidential elections

Icelanders will take to the polls tomorrow to determine if Olafur Ragnar Grimsson will get a fifth presidential term. The 69-year-old’s main competitor is 37-year-old TV presenter Thora Arnorsdottir, although polls put Grimsson ahead.

Grimsson, who is noted for refusing to use tax payers’ money to refund savers in Britain and the Netherlands after the banking crash in 2008, announced in March that he would seek another term after he received a 30,000-signature petition asking him to reconsider his decision not to stand.

“More than 30,000 Icelanders pleaded with me to carry on the watch in these uncertain times and ensure that in Bessastadir (the presidential residence) there would remain determination and experience,” Grimsson told daily newspaper Morgunbladid.

Arnorsdottir, however, is convinced the country needs fresh blood at the helm. “I think we have all felt a strong need for a change in this country. Iceland is a small country, and we pretty much agree on how this society should be,” she said in an interview with the Reykjavik Grapevine.

Speaking to Morgunbladid, Arnorsdottir, who has no political background, explained that she decided to run for president after reading a report about Iceland’s banking collapse.

“I think that now is an opportunity to learn from the experience we have been through … and use it for a new beginning,” she said, adding that although the presidency role is largely ceremonial, the position “has a great power of influence.”