Iceland – New coalition agreed

Parliamentary elections were held in Iceland on 27 April. The outgoing government was roundly defeated. A new coalition has now been agreed.

The two leading parties following the election, the Independence Party and the Progressive Party, each won 19 seats. There are 63 seats in the legislature.

In the end, the Progressive Party will take the premiership. The new PM will be Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. The leader of the Independence Party, Bjarni Benediktsson, will become the Finance Minister. Iceland Review is reporting that the Progressive Party will have four other cabinet posts and that the Independence Party will have five as well as the Speaker of Parliament.

One issue this raises is whether Iceland is about to begin a period of cohabitation. This depends on whether you consider the president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, to be partisan. He was previously an elected member (and minister) representing the People’s Alliance (AP). When he was elected president in 1996 he became an independent. However, he was required to do so and still record him as AP. Given I use as the source of partisanship, then this would suggest a new period of cohabitation should be recorded.

One complicating factor, though, is that AP no longer exists. It merged with other parties to form the Social Democratic Alliance in 1998, though some members did not join and set up the Left-Green Movement. So, while may be right in 1996, it cannot not correct about President Grímsson’s affiliation now. If AP still existed, then I would record a period of cohabitation. However, given it does not, then I am not recording the current period as a period of cohabitation. By the same token, I have amended the list of cohabitations for Iceland in another part of this blog.

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