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Iceland heads into fourth election since 2008

Nordic country prepares for another snap election on Saturday

İlker Girit  | 27.10.2017
Iceland heads into fourth election since 2008

Istanbul

By Ilker Girit

ISTANBUL

Iceland, an isolated Nordic island nation widely known as a calm county, is going to experience another snap election on Saturday after a shocking coalition government collapse last month.

The country's last parliamentary poll was held in October last year -- another snap election -- after the then-prime minister was forced to resign over fraud allegations.

October's election saw Bjarni Benediktsson's conservative Independence Party make a coalition with the Reform Party and the centrist Bright Future party in January after returning 21 lawmakers to the 63-seat Althing, the island’s parliament.

However, Iceland’s 335,000 inhabitants were shaken last month by another scandal, involving the prime minister's father, which prompted a junior member of the three-party coalition -- Bright Future -- to quit the government.

On Sept. 15, a story surfaced that Benediktsson’s father, Benedikt Sveinsson -- a member of the Independence Party and one of the richest people in the country -- had written a letter in support of “restoring the honor” of a convicted child molester.

Bright Future cited a breach of trust, then quit the coalition, bringing down the government.

Now, around 250,000 Icelandic voters will cast their votes on Saturday in the fourth contest to follow the country's damaging 2008 financial crisis.

In 2009, an Independence Party-led government also collapsed amid the European debt crisis, which hit almost all countries in the continent.

After four years of the center-left ruling the country, the Independence Party returned to power in a coalition with the Progressive Party in 2013.

That coalition lasted until April 2016, when the Prime Minister -- and Progressive Party leader-- Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson was forced to resign after Panama Papers leaks claimed he had protected his wealth offshore during the financial crisis.

After that, the country elected today's outgoing government as the Independence Party-led coalition headed by Benediktsson was established, although his name had also appeared in the Panama Papers dossier in 2016.

Recent opinion polls have shown left-wing parties gaining more support, as in 2009.

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