Iceland election sees women MPs almost outnumber men for first time

Published : September 27, 2021 18:33 IST

Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir's government gave Iceland's 360,000 people political stability for four years. Photo: Arni Torfason/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Iceland became the first European country where women would make up more than half of the parliament — or so it thought.

Following a recount of what many saw as a historic election just hours before, results showed that Iceland did not elect its first female-majority parliament after all. Prior to the recount, the country celebrated what would have been the first first time in Icelandic and European politics, in which there were more women lawmakers than men in parliament.

Some 33 women were voted into the 63-seat parliament, Icelandic public broadcaster RUV said earlier on September 26. However, the recount indicated that women received just 30 seats. Still, at almost 48 per cent of the total, it is the highest percentage for women lawmakers in Europe. The only other European country to come close is Sweden with 47 per cent women lawmakers, according to data from the World Bank.

Iceland would have joined the short list of countries where women outnumber men in parliament — including Rwanda, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.

One candidate who saw her victory overturned by the recount was law student Lenya Run Karim, a 21-year-old daughter of Kurdish immigrants who ran for the anti-establishment Pirate Party. "These were a good nine hours,'' said Karim, who would have been Iceland's youngest-ever lawmaker.

What were the election results?

Iceland's ruling coalition retained its majority in September 25's elections even as Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir's party suffered losses. It remains to be seen whether the three-party coalition that governed the island nation for the past four years will stick together. They said before the election that they would enter negotiations if they held on to their majority.

With all votes counted, Jakobsdottir's Left-Green Movement, the agrarian center-right Progressive Party, and the conservative Independence Party held 37 of the 63 seats in parliament.

Four years of stability

Jakobsdottir led the first government that completed a full term after a decade of crises. The island nation held elections five times between 2007 and 2017 due to a series of scandals and deepening mistrust of politicians. While the prime minister herself remains popular, her party has been losing support.

Eight parties are set to enter Iceland's 1,100-year-old parliament, the Althing, giving the parties numerous other coalition options.

Jakobsdottir's future as PM uncertain

The prime minister's Left-Green Movement lost three seats in parliament from the 11 it currently held. "We will have to see how the governmental parties are doing together and how we are doing," Jakobsdottir told news agency AFP.

The Independence Party is set to remain the largest party with 16 seats, holding onto the same number as it had before. Its leader and the country's current finance minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, is eyeing the prime minister's post. "These numbers are good, (it's a) good start to the evening," he told public broadcaster RUV.

The center-right Progressives made the biggest gains and becoming the second-largest party in parliament, winning 13 seats, a big jump from its previous tally of 8.

ab, adi/rs (AFP, dpa)

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