Politics, Europe

Iceland businesswoman Tomasdottir wins presidential election

3 women candidates led in pre-election polls, including former Premier Katrin Jakobsdottir

Leila Nezirevic  | 02.06.2024 - Update : 02.06.2024
Iceland businesswoman Tomasdottir wins presidential election


Icelandic entrepreneur and investor Halla Tomasdottir won the presidential elections in Iceland, leaving former Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir behind, local media reported Sunday.

Tomasdottir secured 32.8% of votes against Jakobsdottir, who had the support of 25.7% votes, while an environmental expert Halla Hrund Logadottir stood in third place with 14.6%, the state-owned broadcaster RUV said in the early hours of Sunday.

Jakobsdottir, also the party leader for the Left-Green Movement who served as the head of the left-right coalition government from 2017, congratulated Tomasdottir.

"Yes, I congratulate her on that and know she will be a good president," she told RUV when the initial results came out.

Jakobsdottir in April announced that she would be stepping down as the prime minister to run for president.

The hugely popular incumbent Gudni Johannesson, who has held the position since 2016 and was re-elected in 2020 with a massive 92% of the vote, did not stand again after two terms in office.

Presidential contenders during debates discussed the country's NATO membership, the Israeli war on Gaza, arms deliveries to Ukraine, use of presidential veto powers, and the sale of Iceland's national power company, according to RUV.

In Iceland, the president holds a ceremonial position in the parliamentary republic, acting as a guarantor of the constitution and national unity, however, the president can also play a role during a government formation process and can refuse to dissolve the parliament.

The country made history in 1980 when Vigdis Finnbogadottir became the first woman to be elected as the president of a country. She ended up serving four terms, after which Iceland has been led by male heads of state.

Iceland faces uncertainty after recent volcanic eruptions caused major damage in the town of Grindavik, in the southwest of the country, adding to pressures on an economy already facing high inflation and soaring interest rates.

The nation of around 400,000 people went to polls five times from 2007 to 2017, in a period marked by political scandals and distrust of politicians following the 2008 financial crisis.

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