B E N E D I C T ( V I K T O R ) G O M B O C ZPolitics of Iceland
Geography of Iceland Location: Northern Europe, islandbetween the Greenland Sea and the NorthAtlantic Ocean, northwest of the UnitedKingdom Area Total: 103,000 sq km Country comparison to the world: 108 Land: 100,250 sq km Water: 2,750 sq km Area – comparative: Slightly smaller thanKentucky Land boundaries: 0 km Coastline: 4,970 km
Religion in Iceland Norse paganism, a mutual faith among themediaeval Scandinavians until theyconverted to Christianity, was initiallyreligion in Iceland, which subsequentlybecame partly Christian and then mostlyChristian. This growing Christianization concluded inthe Pietism era, during which non-Christianpractices were forbidden. Iceland, at present, is predominantly, ifnominally, Lutheran, but Christianminorities, such as Baptist, Catholic, andJehovah’s Witnesses also exist. Germanic Heathenism is, after Christianity,the second biggest religion. In 2011, a Gallup poll concluded that 60% ofIcelanders believed religion was insignificantin their everyday lives; this is one of thelargest irreligion rates in the world.
Religion statistics Lutheran Church of Iceland (official): 80.7% Roman Catholic: 2.5% Reykjavík Free Church: 2.4% Hafnarfjorour Free Church: 1.6% Other religions: 3.6% Unaffiliated: 3% Other or unspecified: 6.2% (2006 est.)
Background of Iceland’s political system The political system of Iceland functions in the structure of a parliamentaryrepresentative democratic republic; the PM of Iceland serves as the head ofgovernment, and of a multi-party structure. Iceland is debatably the oldest existing parliamentary democracy in the world. The government exercises executive power. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament, theAlthing. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Government of Iceland Capital (and largest city): Reykjavík National language: Icelandic Demonym: Icelander, Icelandic Government: Unitary parliamentaryconstitutional republic President: Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson Prime Minister: JóhannaSigurðardóttir Speaker of the Althing: ÁstaRagnheiður Jóhannesdóttir Legislature: Althing (Alþingi)
Parties registered for the 27 April 2013 parliamentary elections Bright Future (Björt framtíð) Progressive Party (Framsóknarflokkur) Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkur) Right-Green Movement (Hægri Grænir) Humanist Party - related to International HumanistParty (Húmanistaflokkurinn) Households Party – New party founded on 19 March2013, as a merger of eight groups: Republican Party,Sovereign Union, Sjálfstæðir Sjálfstæðismenn,Þjóðarflokkurinn, 3 interest groups, and a split fromSolidarity (Flokkur Heimilanna) Rainbow – New party founded in March 2013(Regnboginn) Sturla Jónsson (Sturla Jónsson) Democracy Watch – a new party split from Dawn(Lýðræðisvaktin) Rural Party – New party founded on 23 February 2013(Landsbyggðarflokkurinn) People’s Front of Iceland (Alþýðufylkingin) Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin —jafnaðarmannaflokkur Íslands) Dawn (Dögun) Left-Green Movement (Vinstrihreyfingin — græntframboð) Pirate Party (Pírataflokkurinn)
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson Born 14 May 1943 in Ísafjörður. 5th and current President of Iceland, havingassumed office on 1 August 1996; ran unopposedin 2000, was re-elected for a third term in 2004,was re-elected unopposed for a fourth term in2008, and was re-elected for a record fifth termin 2012. Studied economics and political science at theUniversity of Manchester between 1962-1970;became the first Icelander, in 1970, to obtain aPhD in political science. Subsequently became a lecturer in politicalscience at the University of Iceland, also in 1970,and then a Professor of Political Science at thesame university, in 1973; was that university’sfirst Professor of Political Science. Participated in a debate, in 1984, alongside threeother left-wing scholars, with economist MiltonFriedman, who was on a visit to Iceland todeliver a lecture on the “tyranny of the statusquo” at the University of Iceland.
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir Born 4 October 1942 in Reykjavík. Current PM of Iceland; assumed office on 1 February2009. MP since 1978; served as Iceland’s Minister of SocialAffairs and Social Security twice: between 1987-1994 and2007-2009. Has served as a member of the Althing for Reykjavíkconstituencies since 1978; was re-elected on eightconsecutive occasions. Became the first female PM of Iceland and the world’sfirst openly lesbian head of government upon takingoffice on 1 February 2009. Is a social democrat and the lengthiest serving MP inIceland. Raised her fist and said “Minn tími mun koma!” (“Mytime will come!”), a phrase that went on to become anadmired Icelandic expression, when, in the 1990s, shelost a proposal to lead the Social Democratic Party. Was listed among the 100 Most Powerful Women in theworld by Forbes magazine, in 2009. Announced in September 2012 that she will not run forre-election and will step down from political life instead.
Ásta Ragnheiður Jóhannesdóttir Born 16 October 1949 in Reykjavík. Current speaker of the Althing. Briefly served as Iceland’s Minister ofSocial Affairs and Social Securityfrom 1 February 2009-10 May 2009. Has served in the Althing since 1995.
Bright Future Founded on 4 February 2012. Included two MPs, GuðmundurSteingrímsson (defected from theProgressive Party) and Róbert Marshall(defected from the Social DemocraticAlliance) prior to the 2013 generalelection. Subsequently gained six seats in theelection. Endorses Icelandic membership in theEuropean Union and adopting the Euro asIceland’s currency. Has ties to the Group of the Alliance ofLiberals and Democrats for Europe(ALDE) in the EP.