Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson resigns after bitter defeat in snap votes

October 30, 2016 8:50 pm

’s Prime Minister (L) leaves a polling station with his wife after voting in Fludir, , during the snap general election, on October 29, 2016. (AFP photo)

Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson has announced his resignation after his party suffered an unexpected defeat in the country’s snap parliamentary votes.
Johannsson said on Sunday that he would remain in office until a new government is formed, adding that his decision was in line with Iceland’s constitution.
The move came hours after the results of snap votes were released which showed no party had won a majority.
Johannsson’s Progressive Party won just eight seats in the 63-member parliament. The centrist party has 19 seats in the outgoing assembly.
The resignation paves the way for other parties to engage in intense negotiations to form the next government.
Reports said Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson could be tasked by Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson with trying to form a new government. Benediktsson’s conservative Independence Party won 21 seats in Saturday’s election.
The incumbent coalition government in Iceland is also run through a coalition between Progress and Independence parties. The early votes came after leaks emerged in the media in April showing that former Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson had been running overseas companies that benefited from tax evasion mechanisms.
Initial results on Saturday had suggested that the ruling coalition would ultimately win a majority although Johannsson had said he would resign in the face of dwindling support for his party.
The vote in Iceland also marked the unexpected rise of lesser known parties like the Pirate, a group of Internet freedom advocates who had capitalized on online leaks such as Panama Papers which led to Gunnlaugsson’s resignation. The Pirate Party and three center-left allies won 27 seats in the polls.
The results of the snap election was also a reflection of the public distrust in Iceland’s established parties as the Nordic country has yet to fully recover from the banking crisis that busted it in 2008.
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