It is one month until Icelandic voters go back to the polls for the second time in a year to decide how they want to be governed for the (ideally) the next four years. The last government, a coalition of the Independence Party, Bright Future and the Reform Party collapsed following a paedophile scandal involving their controversial ‘restored honour’ law.
With the parties gearing up for another election, opinion polls are already suggesting that the Left-Green Movement could have their best election results in their history and could overtake the Independence Party as the largest party in the Icelandic parliament, the Althing.
Also, in a surprise announcement, disgraced former Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, who was forced to resign after being implicated in the Panama Papers scandal last year, said that he has left the Progressive Party and that he plans to start a new political party in time for the elections next month. He said in a post on his website that the party would adopt a similar ideology to that of the Progressives under his leadership. It is currently unclear what this new party would be called or when it will launch.*
WHAT DO THE POLLS SAY?
Four polls have been released since elections were called, all of which have shown a drop in support for the centre-right Independence Party and an increase for the centre-left Left-Green Movement.
The two most recent polls are worth paying attention to. Last week, a poll by Morgunblaðið put the Left-Greens on 30%, their highest ever and almost double their result last year. Independence was down 6%, with the People’s Party, a populist party formed by a former X-factor contestant last year, set to enter parliament for the first time.
The poll revealed how many seats each party would have won if the results were reflected at the next election:
- Left-Green Movement: 30%, 22 seats (+14.1%, +12 seats)
- Independence Party: 23%, 15 seats (-9.0%, -6 seats)
- Progressive Party: 11%, 7 seats (-0.5%, -1 seat)
- Pirate Party: 10%, 6 seats (-4.5%, -4 seats)
- People’s Party: 9%, 5 seats (+5.5%, +5 seats)
- Social Democratic Alliance: 8%, 5 seats (+2.3%, +2 seats)
- Reform Party: 6%, 3 seats (-4.5%, -4 seats)
- Bright Future: 3%, 0 seats (-4.2%, -3 seats)
Such an arrangement would make it unlikely for a centre-right coalition under Independence to be formed. A coalition of the Left-Green Movement, the Pirate Party and the People’s Party would have a slim majority in the Althing, but criticism of the party’s anti-immigrant rhetoric may prevent such an agreement. Alternatively, the Left-Greens and the Pirates could alternatively seek the support of the Social Democratic Alliance, which also would have the same sized majority.
However, a poll published today shows a closer race between the Left-Greens and Independence, with a Gunnlaugsson party polling at 7.3%, seemingly taking a significant amount of support from the Left-Greens, the Progressives and the Reform Party. Should his party be formed in time to contest the election, it could result in both Bright Future and the Reform Party, Independence’s former coalition partners, both losing their seats in Parliament.
The poll, and a rough seat prediction, is below:
- Left-Green Movement: 24.7% (19 seats)
- Independence Party: 23.5% (17 seats)
- Social Democratic Alliance: 10.4% (7 seats)
- Pirate Party: 10.0% (7 seats)
- People’s Party: 8.5% (6 seats)
- Gunnlaugsson*: 7.3% (4 seats)
- Progressive Party: 6.4% (3 seats)
- Reform Party: 4.9% (0 seats)
- Bright Future: 2.5% (0 seats)
- Dawn: 0.6% (0 seats)
- Other: 1.1% (0 seats)
With this poll and seat projection, a coalition between the Left-Green Movement, the Social Democratic Alliance and the Pirate Party appears most likely, despite having a majority of only two. A right-leaning coalition appears extremely unlikely without the support of a left-wing party or the Pirates – a deal with Independence, the People’s Party, Gunnlaugsson’s new party and the Progressive Party would fall short of a majority by two seats.
More coverage of the Icelandic election, including party manifestos, coming soon.
* UPDATE 29/09 – Former PM Gunnlauggson has now formed his new party, known as the Centre Party. More to follow.