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Icelandic general election Options
Posted: Saturday, October 28, 2017 4:25:27 AM

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It is the parliamentary election today in Iceland, following the collapse of the coalition after less than a year. There was a scandal and the Prime Minister called a snap election.
For background, in Iceland there is a process called 'restoration of honour' - a bit like an outlaw being accepted back into society. It is not a pardon, it is a reacquisition of certain rights after you have been convicted and served your sentence. You have to have people of good character testify to your good character, and then as a convicted person you can do things that you normally can't, such as practice law or represent people as a politician. Anyway, it was found that the father of the Prime Minister had attested to this for a man convicted of raping his stepdaugher over several years, and people were angry at the patronage and the government collapsed. There is a lot of pressure to repeal the law.
Anyway, that is the background.

I know this is not a major event - and I am not inviting some great debate - I just find it interesting to actually know what is going on in other countries. This is not really a post for the 'politics' section at all, - it is more about culture - but it would be a bit ridiculous to put it anywhere else. It is just showing what I would be interested in about any other country - the political landscape. Not all politics is about the US, (or Australia - Tov, I have been following the stories - what a bizarre constitutional crisis to have!). We only see such restricted stories about the elections in most countries, so I think it is good to see the whole picture sometimes - what choices are actually been made available to people going to the polls.

So, for anybody who wants to get a feel for the political landscape in Iceland just out of natural curiosity, here are the players, as presented by an English language publication in Iceland.

( For any US readers, for the party described as 'right-wing' read 'rampant pinko socialists' and adjust your scale accordingly. :-) )

Tomorrow, October 28th, Iceland will hold parliamentary elections, only one day short of a year since its last election. The previous three-party governing coalition consisting of The Independence Party, the Reform Party, and Bright Future disbanded just last month, when Bright Future left the coalition citing a breach of confidence.

Below is an overview of the parties that are currently running for election, although not all of them will be running in every constituency. Parties are listed alphabetically by their party ballot letters. The overview includes a brief description of each party’s ideology, their top candidate in each of the six constituencies, and their previous parliamentary experience.

XA - Björt Framtíð (Bright Future)

Current number of seats: 4/63

Bright Future identifies as a liberal and environmentally friendly center party. They are a social liberalism party and pro-European Union.

Their top candidates are Óttar Proppé (party chairman and current Minister of Health), Nichole Leigh Mosty (kindergarten principal and current MP), Björt Ólafsdóttir (current Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources), Jasmina Crnac (university student), Guðlaug Kristjánsdóttir (municipal councillor and physical therapist), and Arngrímur Viðar Arngrímsson (sports instructor).

Bright Future was in government with the Independence Party and Reform Party this term, before leaving the coalition, which led to the collapse of government.

XB - Framsóknarflokkurinn (The Progressive Party)

Current number of seats: 8/63

The Progressive Party is Iceland’s oldest party, identifying as a centre, populist, agrarian and Eurosceptic political party.

Their candidates are Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (current MP and former prime minister), Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir (current MP and solicitor), Ásmundur Einar Daðason (former MP), Þórunn Egilsdóttir (current MP), and Willum Þór Þórsson (operations economist).

The Progressive Party has been in a large number of governments, the last of which was between 2013-16.

XC - Viðreisn (Reform Party)

Current number of seats: 7/63

The Reform Party is a centre-right party. Their main ideologies include free trade and equality, along with a pro-EU stance.

Their top candidates are Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdótir (Chairman and acting Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture), Hanna Katrín Friðriksson (current MP), Þorsteinn Víglundsson (current Minister of Social Affairs and Equality), Jóna Sólveig Elínardóttir (current MP), Gylfi Ólafsson (current Assistant to Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs), and Benedikt Jóhannesson (current Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs).

The Reform Party was in government with the Independence Party and Bright Future last term. It was officially founded in May of last year, though it has existed as a political network since 2014.

XD - Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (The Independence Party)

Current number of seats: 21/63

The Independence Party is a liberal conservative and Eurosceptic right-wing party. Its chairmen have all been prime ministers since the party’s creation in 1929.

Their top candidates are Bjarni Benediktsson (current Prime Minister), Kristján Þór Júlísson (current Minister of Education, Science and Culture), Haraldur Benediktsson (current MP), Guðlaugur Þ. Þórðarson (current Minister for Foreign Affairs), Sigríður Á. Andersen (current Minister of Justice), and Páll Magnússon (current MP).

The Independence Party has been in the most governments of any party, including the most recent one alongside The Reform Party and Bright Future.

XF - Flokkur Fólksins (The People’s Party)

Current number of seats: 0/63

The People’s Party’s main issues are better conditions for the poor, elderly and disabled. Its ideologies are populism and identifying as a centre party.

Their top candidates are Inga Sæland (lawyer), Ólafur Ísleifsson (economist), Guðmundur Ingi Kristinsson (board member of the Organization of Disabled in Iceland), Karl Gauti Hjaltason (lawyer), Halldór Gunnarsson (former parish priest), and Magnús Þór Hafsteinsson (editor and author).

The People’s Party received 3.5 percent of the vote in last year’s election; not enough to earn a seat in parliament.

XM - Miðflokkurinn (The Centre Party)

Current number of seats: 0/63

The Centre Party is Iceland’s newest political party, a self-proclaimed centrist party with populist and liberal ideologies.

Their top candidates are Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (former Prime Minister), Bergþór Ólason (CEO), Birgir Þórarinsson (theologian), Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson (former Minister of Foreign Affairs), Þorsteinn B. Sæmundsson (former MP), and Guðfinna J. Guðmundsdóttir (municipal councillor).

The Centre Party split from the Progressive Party earlier this autumn, when former Chairman and Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson left due to leadership disputes.

XP - Píratar (Pirate Party)

Current number of seats: 10/63

Based on pirate politics and direct democracy, the Pirate Party describes itself as a syncretic political movement.

Their top candidates are Helgi Hrafn Gunnlaugsson (former MP), Jón Þór Ólafsson (current MP), Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir (current MP), Smári McCarthy (current MP), Einar Aðalsteinn Brynjólfsson (current MP), Eva Pandora Baldursdóttir (current MP).

The Pirate Party has been in Parliament since 2013, when they won three seats, winning 10 in last year’s election.

XR - Alþýðufylkingin (People’s Front of Iceland)

Current number of seats: 0/63

The People’s Front of Iceland is an anti-capitalist, leftist political party that is “unconditionally opposed” to joining the EU and NATO. It seeks to “free the people from the yoke of market capitalism.”

Their top candidates are Þorvaldur Gylfason (carpenter), Vésteinn Valgarðsson (support representative), Þorsteinn Bergsson (animal inspector) and Erna Lína Önnudóttir Baldvinsdóttir (university student).

The People’s Front of Iceland split from the Left-Green Movement (see below) in 2009 and has taken part in every election since, though it has yet to gain a seat. The party is currently running in four out of six constituencies.

XS - Samfylkingin (Social Democratic Alliance)

Current number of seats: 3/63

The Social Democratic Alliance is a center-left, pro-EU social democratic party.

Their top candidates are Logi M. Einarsson (Chairman and current MP), Ágúst Ólafur Ágústsson (adjunct), Guðmundur Andri Thorsson (author), Helga Vala Helgadóttir (solicitor and actress), Guðjón S. Brjánsson (current MP) and Oddný Guðbjörg Harðardóttir (current MP).

Since its foundation in the year 2000, the party has served six terms in parliament and two in government.

XT - Dögun (Dawn)

Current number of seats: 0/63

Dögun is a political party that centers on fairness, justice and democracy.

Their top candidate is Ragnhildur L. Guðmundsdóttir (teacher).

Dögun was formed in 2013 with the merger of a number of smaller parties. In its first parliamentary election the party received 3.1 percent of the vote. In last year’s election it received 1.73 percent. In this election the party is only running in one constituency.

XV - Vinstri Hreyfingin Grænt Framboð (Left-Green Movement)

Current number of seats: 10/63

The Left-Green Movement is a left-wing party that centers on environmentalism, feminism and pacifism. It considers itself Eurosceptic although it supports a referendum on the matter.

Their top candidates are Katrín Jakobsdóttir (current MP), Svandís Svavarsdóttir (current MP), Steingrímur J. Sigfússon (current MP), Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir (current MP), Lilja Rafney Magnúsdóttir (current MP) and Ari Trausti Guðmundsson (current MP).

The party has been in parliament since 1999, and in government between 2009-13.

Oh, and the system is a mixed constituency list/PR system. The parties put forward candidates in each geographical constitution, and numbers are assigned accordingly, but then there are additional PR seats from the national vote tally - anybody who gets 5% of the national vote gets a seat, even if that is not enough in individual constituencies.
The political parties are not monolithic - there are some more established parties but others are pretty fluid, and even just a few people working together can be a party, when the votes to get in are numbered in the thousands. They can be networks of like individuals rather than any centralised 'party' structure.

The background to the scandal, better than I can explain it:

The practice of ‚restoring honour‘ has come under increased criticism in Iceland of late and the issue has disbanded the coalition government of the country. A recent verdict by the Ministry of Justice has allowed the disclosing of information about which individuals have provided letters of recommendations to former convicts applying for a restoration of honour. In a recent turn of events, the coalition government formed under the auspices of Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson, leader of Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (The Independence Party), disbanded after just under a year in power. The governing body of Björt Framtíð (Bright Future) elected to disband the governing coalition after a case of breached confidence regarding a case of restored honour. The case revolves around the convicted paedophile Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson, who had his honour restored recently.

One of the men who provided a letter of recommendation for Hjalti was Benedikt Sveinsson, father of prime minister Bjarni Benediktsson. Bjarni was informed of the letter last July by Minister of Justice Sigríður Á. Árnadóttir. Sigríður had kept the name from the media, and the populace, since June. This information was not relayed to Björt Framtíð and Viðreisn (The Reform Party), the two parties that form the coalition government alongside Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn. Thus, 87% of the governing body of Björt Framtíð voted to disband the coalition. An official statement from Viðreisn also condemns the breach of trust as the party calls for an immediate Parliamentary election.

Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Saturday, October 28, 2017 4:55:23 AM

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Nothing new under the Sun. It's about the same here, only the names of the parties sound more understanable - if not more familiar ;-)

In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
Posted: Tuesday, November 7, 2017 3:52:54 PM

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Certainly nothing new with trying to get a coalition when the parties can only scrape a majority. Last time it took ages and several cycles of mandated leaders to get agreement. Fishing policy and EU relations, the sticking points.

I like a system that is personal and based on individual choices, not tied to monolithic parties like Labour and Tories or Democrats and Republicans (it always makes me chuckle that the Americans were always so against Communism as being a one-party state, and they only managed two - and look how their voters responded to the perceived lack of alternative options!) - but right now I wouldn't mind someone actually forming a government! d'oh!

: Government coalition talks abandoned

Coalition talks between the Left-Green Movement, the Social Democratic Alliance, the Progressive Party, and the Pirate Party have been abandoned.
Iceland Monitor/Kristinn Magnússon
Mon 6 Nov 2017

The center-left government coalition talks that begun on Friday have been abandoned. The formal talks were initiated on after the leaders of the Progessive Party, the Left-Green Movement, the Social Democratic Alliance and the Pirate Party agreed to make an attempt to form a majority government following the October 28 general elections.

Left-Green leader Katrín Jakobsdóttir was summoned to the President of Iceland on Thursday and given official mandate to form a government.

According to our sources, the Progressive Party decided to abandon the talks due to the small majority in parliament. The four party coalition would have had 32 MPs in Iceland’s 63 member parliament, the smallest possible majority.

The leaders of both the remaining political parties in Iceland's parliament which favour joining the European Union have declared that their policy calling for a referendum on whether to re-apply for EU membership will not be a condition for possible participation in a new government.

The general elections in Iceland on 28 October resulted in a record eight political parties entering the Icelandic parliament, Althingi. The parties have since tried to form a functioning coalition government. Formal talks on a centre-left coalition, which began late last week, were terminated yesterday.

Before the elections three out of seven parties represented in the parliament were in favour of EU membership. The elections saw one of them, Bright Future, lose all their MPs. Currently there are therefore only two pro-EU parties out of the total number of eight as Bright Future was replaced by two parties that oppose EU membership.

Logi Einarsson, chairman of the Social Democratic Alliance ('Samfylkingin') said last week that his party would not insist on an EU referendum and yesterday Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, chair of the centrist Restoration Party ('Viðreisn') followed suit in an interview with the national broadcaster RÚV saying this was not the time for such conditions.

MORE: Fresh poll confirms Iceland's long-standing opposition to EU membership

Most Icelanders reject EU membership according to opinion polls. Every poll published since 2009 has had a solid majority against joining the bloc. The majority also opposes re-applying for EU membership as well as adopting the euro.

The then centre-left government of Iceland applied to join the EU in July 2009 following economic crisis that hit Iceland the year before. A new government, however, announced in 2015 that Iceland was no longer a candidate for EU membership.

Andrew Schultz
Posted: Tuesday, November 7, 2017 9:59:40 PM

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I really appreciate reading about other forms of government in action. In the US there is a lot of "oh other forms HAVE to be better" and "OURS IS THE BEST BEST BEST." While I have a general grasp of how parliamentary elections work, it's interesting to see the nuts and bolts from someone who lives in the country.

Many people say we need a few more splinter parties, the 2 party system is broken, etc. There are...pluses and minuses either way, which is overgeneral, yeah, but it's interesting to read about EU memberships, etc.

100th person on TFD to 1 million neurons.
Posted: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 4:36:54 AM
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Joined: 6/14/2009
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Andrew - hopefully you understand me well enough by now to know I'm not stirring - just curious.

You say, about 2 party systems, "There are...pluses and minuses either way....". So I was wondering what you feel would be the pluses of a 2 party system? I can't actually think of any off the top of my head, so it would be interesting to hear.
almo 1
Posted: Wednesday, November 8, 2017 5:09:53 AM
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Posted: Thursday, November 9, 2017 11:58:06 AM

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Joined: 7/8/2010
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Well, at least with 2 parties you know who won!

Two strong ones alongside others means weak players can be given disproportionate power to make deals
(Ahem DUP in UKWhistle )

Lots of parties means you can't be too nasty about your rivals because you will probably end up working with them.
Every single government in modern Iceland has been a coalition - 'the way things are'.

You could see this two ways:
Either power is so divided that there are always compromises and visions are diluted and governments struggle
Power is divided so everyone has to work together, and everyone gets a say.

I choose to see the second version.
Yes, there have been monumental screwups like the economic meltdown which should have been avoided, a revolution, and a high turnover of governments recently - but in a global comparison nothing really bad happened. Government carries on, it is changed and the system becomes more accountable.
People here have the same global disease - distrust of professional politicians. The upside of being so small (and tech-connected) is that any view can be heard. Anyone can form a political part, or join one and maybe stand for them.
In this election lots of diferent people standing - students, teachers, poets, writers, singers, priest, business people, woirkers, as well as lawyers and 'politicians'.

Coalition is a dirty word in other places,as it usually implies weakness, bad power dynamics, disagreement and muddled policy.

I am not claiming the policy is necessarily any better in the Icelandic system, but at least most people feel they are listened to and form a part of the system.

Coalition is not necessarily bad. (At one point in history the king of Norway was trying to take over - there was one powerful family who fought against others, - conflict - the Norwegian king took over - bad times. Took over 600 years to become independent again. That was 1264. You learn from history. Conflict amongst the people is not productive and too much power in one place is ultimately destabilising if it makes others feel disenfranchised.) Whistle

This election result was certainly spreading the love - time to talk coalition...!

Independence Party..........49.543 votes, .....25,2% share, 16 seats (lost 5)
Left-Green Movement.........33.155 votes....... 16,9% share...11 seats (gained 1)
Social Democratic Alliance...23.652 votes.......12,1% share,... 7 seats, ( gained 4)
Centre Party.................21.335 votes 10,9% share. 7 seats (new party)
Progressive Party............21.016 votes.......10,7% share 8 seats (no change)
Pirate Party.................18.051 votes.......9,2% share......6 seats (lost 4)
People's Party...............13.502 votes.......6,9% share .....4 seats (up 4 from none)
Restoration..................13.122 votes...... 6,7% share......4 seats (lost 3)
Bright Future.................2.394 votes.......1,2% share .... 0 seats -(lost all 4)

Sorry if formatting makes that unintelligible.
Numbers are European style. 2.394 is thousands. 1,2 is a decimal.

The latest try is Left-Green talking to Independence, Progressive and Alliance.
That would make a stronger majority of 42. And it does include the party with the most seats,which is more representative. But not simple to get those people to work together! Whistle
Andrew Schultz
Posted: Thursday, November 9, 2017 1:17:13 PM

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Romany, I think with too many parties it does become a free for all--I don't know if you've seen Barry Schwartz's TedTalk on the Paradox of choice, but having two major parties (in theory) works well.

The problem with splinter parties in the USA is that they've been a bit crazy and self-aggrandizing, so I don't trust them, and far-left and far-right candidates cost candidates on their side of the spectrum.

In particular, the Greens seemed to deliberately pull votes from the Democrats, and the Green vote in 2000 would've won it for Al Gore in Florida. So maybe I am arguing against any third parties springing up in what's already a 2-party democracy, in a plurality-takes-all election.

The USA having a bunch of splinter parties led to the Civil War, and with a 2-party system, we haven't had anything like that--well, there were the Dixiecrats who splintered off and probably helped Nixon beat Humphrey in '68. And Ross Perot's vanity runs in '92 and '96 were just weird and people voted for him protesting...well, I'm not sure what.

So maybe for whatever reason too many parties doesn't work in the USA.

I may be talking myself into a corner here. But having, say, a 49-48-3 split with the 3 usually siding with the 49 could lead to the 3 siding with the 48 if they are given enough power--in which case people have voted for the opposite of what they have. Should the 3% really have that much power and ability to knife the people that voted for them in the back? It may be a contrived example, and there's no perfect solution.

Also, this is moving the goalposts from your question, but the last few years have shown me that people participating meaningfully between elections can mean a lot more than parliamentary vs (pretty much) 2 party governance. Whatever form of government there is, the elected officials need some motivation to stay, well, electable.

100th person on TFD to 1 million neurons.
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