At last, all the votes are now counted and the final result is in… So, who’s really won from this year’s election and what coalition arrangement is likely? Read on to find out!
IN A NUTSHELL
- Iceland suffers its worst turnout since the founding of the republic in 1944, but is higher than original estimates (79.2%, rather than predictions of 65% – 2013 was 81.4%)
- Independence-Progressive coalition falls as it unable to hold a majority in parliament
- Icelandic PM and Progressive party leader, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, resigns after the party’s abysmal performance in the elections – losing over half their support and 11 seats
- Pirate Party triples its support, gaining 15% of the vote and winning 10 seats in parliament, placing third
- Left-Green Movement gains three extra seats and 5% more support, taking them to ten seats and becoming the second largest party in parliament
- Independence Party gains support and two extra seats in the Althing – winning 21 overall
- New party Revival becomes kingmaker, with 10.5% support and seven seats – neither Independence or the Left-Green Movement can form a government without them
- Social Democratic Alliance haemorrhages further support, losing 7.2% and only narrowly re-entering parliament with three seats (from 20 at their peak in 2009)
- Independence – 29%, 21 seats (+2.3%, +2)
- Left-Green – 15.91%, 10 seats (+5%, +3)
- Pirates – 14.48%, 10 seats (+9.4%, +7)
- Progressive – 11.49%, 8 seats (-12.9%, -11)
- Revival – 10.48%, 7 seats (new party)
- Bright Future – 7.16%, 4 seats (-1.5%, -2)
- Social Democratic – 5.74%, 3 seats (-7.1%, -6)
- People’s Party – 3.54% (new party)
- Dawn – 1.73% (-1.37%)
- People’s Front of Iceland – 0.3% (+0.24%)
- Icelandic National Front – 0.16% (new party)
- Humanist Party – 0.02% (-0.05%)
WHO ARE THE WINNERS?
Although Independence will be pleased to have managed to increase their share of the vote amid a scandal that involved their coalition partner, there are three parties that really won this election.
Firstly, the Pirates have done incredibly well to have increased their share of the vote by three times the amount they got in 2013. Despite suggestions that the party did not meet the hype, which expected them to come first, their result is still a huge tremor in Icelandic politics and sees their entrance as a major political player.
Secondly, the Left-Green Movement have been able to recover somewhat from their defeat in 2013 and not follow the same fate as their other left-wing colleagues, the Social Democratic Alliance. For the first time, the Left-Greens are the largest left-wing party in Iceland, and will get the opportunity to lead a government should Independence fail to do so.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Revival have been able to gain enough ground to become kingmakers. The seven seats that they managed to win are crucial for an Independence-led government, but also a possible five-party coalition led by the Left-Green Movement. The most important in this election surprisingly isn’t Independence leader Bjarni Benediktsson, but Revival leader Benedikt Jóhannesson.
Finally, it shouldn’t be overlooked that women hold 30 of the 63 positions in parliament, a new record for Iceland and bringing the gender ratio almost to 1:1 for the first time.
Forming a government will be difficult for either side. Tomorrow, the leaders of the political parties will meet the President, who will almost certainly give a mandate to the Independence Party to form a government.
They will be unable to form a coalition with the Progressives, as that would fall three seats short of a majority. The party has also essentially ruled out any electoral deal with the Pirate Party.
An Independence-Progressive-Revival coalition or an Independence-Revival-Bright Future arrangement could provide the numbers to form a government, but there are issues here. As Revival is essential to these deals, it’s possible they will ask for serious concessions, particularly on the welfare state, and possibly demand a referendum on EU accession talks. However, prior to the election (and even this morning!) Revival had ruled out a coalition deal with Independence and the Progressives. Meaningful concessions and even cabinet positions may be needed to change their mind…
As Bright Future have been working more closely with the opposition and discontent among the Independence Party itself on doing another deal with the scandal-hit Progressives, this makes forming a government not impossible but quite challenging.
If Independence has difficulties, the Left-Green’s are much greater. Prior to the election, plans were set out for a four-party opposition coaliton, made up of the Left-Greens, the Pirates, Bright Future and the Alliance (the same coalition that runs Reyjavik City Council).
However, this deal comes to a total of 27 MPs, five short. The only other party that would likely be welcomed into such an arrangement would be Revival, but the party’s pro-EU stance may not sit well with the eurosceptic views the Left-Greens hold. Even if such a deal were successful, serious questions would be raised about the stability of a five-party coalition government, something unprecedented in Icelandic history.
Of course, should a deal not be reached, or parties are unwilling to work with one another, Iceland could be set to go through the election all over again…
More updates next week as the politics of coalitons begin…