Iceland’s opposition wins election, Social Democrats swept out of Parliament

bjarni benediktssonIceland’s Centre-right opposition parties return to power in Iceland following Saturday’s parliamentary election. The Independence Party (Sjáfstæðisflokkurinn, conservative) and the Progressive Party (Framsóknarflokkurinn, centre-right) get 19 seats each in the 63-seat parliament, and are expected to form a coalition government.

The ruling Social Democrats dropped below 13% of the share of the vote, while the Independence party is slightly ahead of the Progressive Party with 26.7% of votes against 24.4%.

The country now awaits the President’s appointment of a prime minister, which is most likely to be the Conservative’s leader, 43 year-old Bjarni Benediktsson.

Saturday’s election marks a dramatic comeback of the two parties which were widely blamed for Iceland’s 2008 economic meltdown. The Conservatives’ victory is partially explained by Icelanders’ weariness of their government’s austerity programme in accordance with a $2,1bn loan by the International Monetary Fund.

“The Independence Party is called to duty again”, said Bjarni Benediktsson. “The situation calls for change. It’s time to start growth,” he said.

However, the big winners of the 2013 parliamentary election are said to the Progressives, who more than doubled their number of seats in the Althing, from 9 to 19. “We are very pleased,” said Progressive Party leader Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (38).

The new coalition in command lead a campaign based on demagogic proposals such as tax cuts and debt relief for individuals, as well as promising to withdraw from membership negotiations with the European Union.

Two new parties performed quite well: the Pirate Party, which won 3 seats, and Bright Future with 6. The leader of the Pirate Party, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, called Saturday’s results “historical”.

Social Democrat prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir who was not standing for elections, retiring at age 70, said she found Saturday’s results”very sad.”

27 April 2013 Icelandic parliamentary election results break down as follows:

  • Independence Party (Sjáfstæðisflokkurinnn): 26.7% of votes, 19 seats (+3)
  • Progressive Party (Framsóknarflokkurinn): 24.43% of votes, 19 seats (+10)
  • Social Democrats (Samfylkingin): 12.85% of votes, 9 seats (-10)
  • Left Greens (Vinstri Grænir): 10.87% of votes, 7 seats (-4)
  • Bright Future (Björt Framtíð): 8.25% of votes, 6 seats (+4)
  • Pirate Party (Pírataflokkurinn): 5.10% of votes, 3 seats (+2)

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