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Katrín to lead female majority Alþingi?

26.09.2021 - 16:36
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 Mynd: RÚV
[UPDATED. The headline is no longer valid. More details at end of article.] Iceland now has Europe’s first-ever female majority in parliament following yesterday’s election. 33 of the seats in Alþingi are now occupied by women, and 30 by men. Only Kuwait and Cuba have more female representation in parliament. In other news, Katrín Jakobsdóttir is in a strong position to remain prime minister despite losing votes, according to one prominent political scientist.

A gender equality milestone 

The 33 women elected to Alþingi for the coming four years amount to 52 percent of members, making Iceland the first country in Europe to have a female majority in parliament. Five other countries in the world share this accolade: Rwanda (61 percent), Cuba (53 percent), Nicaragua (51 percent), and Mexico and the United Arab Emirates (50 percent). 

There were 24 women in the Icelandic parliament over the past four years. The addition of nine more is therefore a significant event in Icelandic, and European, politics. 

There is only one male-only party in Alþingi: the smallest party, Miðflokkurinn (the Centre Party), with its three MPs. At the other end of the scale, only one of Samfylkingin’s (the Social Democrats’) six MPs is a man: the party leader, Logi Einarsson. There are more female MPs than male for Vinstri grænir (the Left Greens), Píratar (the Pirates), Flokkur fólksins (the People’s Party), and Viðreisn (the Reform Party). There are more male MPs than female in Framsóknarflokkurinn (the Progressive Party) and Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (the Independence Party). 

“They need Katrín more than she needs them” 

Bjarni Benediktsson, leader of Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn, and Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, leader of Framsóknarflokkurinn, have more riding on cooperation with Vinstri grænir leader Katrín Jakobsdóttir than she does on them, according to professor of political sciences Eiríkur Bergmann. He says it is even likely that Katrín will remain prime minister, even though her party lost votes compared to four years ago. 

“There is no other choice one can see that is more obvious than the government simply carrying on. Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn is the biggest party, Framsóknarflokkurinn is the biggest gainer, but nevertheless there is the political reality in the country that the leader of these three parties who enjoys the most public trust is Katrín Jakobsdóttir,” Eiríkur says. 

Eiríkur believes it would not be an auspicious move for the coalition cooperation to swap occupants of the Prime Ministry. It is, in fact, necessary for that cooperation for Katrín to remain. 

"I am not totally convinced that a government of these three parties under the leadership of one of the other leaders than her would enjoy as much acclaim. The situation is actually that Bjarni Benediktsson and Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson have more under Katrín Jakobsdóttir in the upcoming coalition negotiations than she has under them," predicts Eiríkur Bergmann, professor of political science. 

Recount in the northwest 

In other election news, the election supervision committee in Northwest Iceland has decided to recount all votes due to the small margin in equalisation seats between constituencies. The committee decided on the highly unusual recount unilaterally, and not on the request of any political party or agency. 

If any discrepancy is revealed, it could affect which constituencies parties receive equalisation seats in. 

Equalisation seats are designed to redress the imbalance of votes under the constituency system and there are two such seats for the most populous constituencies of Reykjavík North, Reykjavík South, and Southwest Iceland, and one each in South Iceland, Northeast Iceland, and Northwest Iceland. 

Based on the existing final results from this morning, before the recount was announced, Guðmundur Gunnarsson for Viðreisn (the Reform Party) got into Alþingi as occupant of the northwest’s equalisation seat. 

UPDATE: A recount in Northwest Iceland announced Sunday afternoon led to a reallocation of equalisation seats on Sunday evening. In this reallocation, the gender balance of parliament changed to 33 men and 30 women. See more here.

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