Today is exactly one week until the Icelandic elections, with the most recent polls showing the Pirate Party are on course to be the largest party in the Althing.
In today’s blog, I take a look at the other governing party, the Progressive Party, examining their policies and why they look set to lose more than 10 seats in next week’s election…
The Progressive Party was formed in December 1916, making it one of the oldest parties in Iceland. Similar to the Independence Party, the Progressives have often been the country’s second largest party in parliament, spending almost half of Iceland’s time as a republic in a coalition government. Being a self-defined centrist party, the Progressives have a history of making electoral pacts with both sides of the political spectrum, but have often entered government with the Independence Party, due to their frequent status as the largest party.
The party is currently in government, after winning almost 25% of the vote and 19 seats in 2013, with its then leader Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, taking on the role of Prime Minister.
However, the release of the Panama Papers damaged Sigmundur and the party severely. Allegations of a conflict of interest over his ownership of shares in a company that dealt with the debt of Icelandic banks forced Sigmundur to effectively resign from the Prime Ministership and, on October 2nd, he was officially replaced as head of the Progressive Party by Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson.
In the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, the party slid in the polls, falling to 7.9% at the height of the crisis.
Currently, the party looks set to lose more than two-thirds of the support it gained in 2013, with the Progressives polling at 9.1% of the vote.
For its 100 year history, the Progressives have been the predominant centrist party in Icelandic politics. Currently, they oppose membership of the European Union and, as an agrarian party, they value the protection of rural society.
- Increase the number of nurses across the whole country and provide free dentistry for elderly people by increasing budget allocations for healthcare provision
- Increase the availability of student housing and help young people onto the housing ladder
- Fully fund Iceland’s climate plan for at least the next three years to ensure Iceland’s commitment to the Paris Memorandum
- Reduce tax burden for those on low and middle incomes
- Introduce taxes for ‘super bonuses’ for bankers and management
- Review interest rates to reflect the financial reality
- Charge tourists a fee on entry to help fund infrastructure
- Scrap VAT on children’s clothing
- Review tax incentives for corporations and individuals in economically weak areas
- Extend maternity leave to 12 months, with increased child benefit
- Opposes membership of the European Union
In the next blog on the Icelandic election, we will take a look at the Social Democratic Alliance, which has fallen from grace in recent years – having been the largest party in 2009, it has lost significant support, and is set to fall even further this year…