Primary elections in Iceland – Women step down and Gunnlaugsson, former prime minister challenged

The primary elections are well underway in Iceland, with parties busy preparing for early elections this fall. The pirate party, one of the bigger parties in Iceland right now, held its primaries earlier this month and introduced some radical new policies when it comes to natural resources such as the fishing industry. The independent party, who stands equal with the pirates if Icelanders were to vote now according to a recent poll, also held its primaries, and so did the progressive party, which now forms the government coalition with the independent party.

The most noteworthy general outcome seems to be that women in politics are downgraded in the primaries, either they are leaving politics altogether or their positions in the parties have been lessened. There also seems to be some noteworthy turbulence surrounding former Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and current chairman of the progressive party. His popularity plummeted after the panama paper scandal resulting in his forced resignation as prime minister and the early election date after massive public protest this spring.

Women in congress downgraded after the primaries

Ólöf Nordal vice chairwoman of the independent party said that women’s part in the parties’ primaries is an enormous disappointment and she regrets to see Ragnheidur Elin Arnadottir leave the political scene. Arnadottir is minister of industrial- and commerce and held the first chair on the primary list of the independent party for the last parliamentary elections but she landed in fourth place in this primary.

More congress women were downgraded, Valgerdur Bjarnadottir landed in the fifth chair and Ólína Kjerulf Thorvardardottir in the third in the North West district and she will decline that seat. Both women held prominent positions after the last parliamentary elections.

Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson challenged

Sveinbjorn Eyjolfsson with the Icelandic Farmers Union has announced his candidacy for the chairmanship of the progressive party, running against former Prime Minister Gunnlaugsson, current chairmen of the party. The party is set to elect a new chairman on the first days of October.

“If no one else will compete with him, I will” Eyjolfson told Morgunbladid’s reporter. He thinks it’s important and necessary for members of the progressive party to be given the opportunity to vote about the situation that has risen, referring to the events surrounding the scandal this spring. He also said that if a stronger challenger were to come along, he would soon withdraw. Nonetheless he stressed the importance to challenge the sitting chairman, address the situation and find out how much support he really has.