Ice­land vot­ers head to polls amid scan­dals

Twelve par­ties vy­ing for Par­lia­ment seats with al­liances shift­ing

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - NATION | WORLD - By Richard Mar­tyn-Hemphill

REYK­JAVIK, Ice­land — As Ice­land headed to the polls Satur­day to vote for mem­bers of one of the old­est Par­lia­ments in the world, the shadow of po­lit­i­cal scan­dal clung to the po­lit­i­cal land­scape, fo­ment­ing voter dis­trust and disgust.

The scan­dals have run the gamut, from ac­cu­sa­tions of a cover-up of a let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion writ­ten by a prime min­is­ter’s fa­ther on be­half of a con­victed pe­dophile, to the fall of an­other prime min­is­ter who was forced out be­cause of his fam­ily’s ties to the Panama Pa­pers.

Both episodes led to the col­lapse of the gov­ern­ment.

Twelve par­ties are com­pet­ing for seats in the 63-seat Par­lia­ment, the Alth­ing, es­tab­lished in A.D. 930.

Polls show the rul­ing cen­ter­right In­de­pen­dence Party is neck and neck with the Left Green Move­ment, which is of­fer­ing Ka­trin Jakob­s­dot­tir as a can­di­date for prime min­is­ter.

If the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Left Greens tri­umph, Jakob­s­dot­tir would be the fourth prime min­is­ter in less than two years.

In this crowded mix, a dark horse has ap­peared: the for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Sig­mundur David Gunnlaugs­son. He was driven from of­fice in April 2016 when he be­came the first ma­jor ca­su­alty of the leaked Panama Pa­pers. They re­vealed that he and his wife had set up a com­pany in the British Vir­gin Is­lands.

Gunnlaugs­son ditched his old party, the Pro­gres­sives, and formed the Cen­ter Party, a pop­ulist out­fit promis­ing to squeeze the fi­nan­cial sec­tor and re­dis­tribute the wealth. He’s hop­ing his party does well enough to be­come part of the gov­ern­ing coali­tion, po­lit­i­cal ob­servers say.

Some ex­perts say it will take a rick­ety coali­tion of as many as four par­ties to form a new gov­ern­ment. If the Left Greens win, Gunnlaugs­son would be an un­likely coali­tion part­ner. They ap­pear to be more open to team­ing with a re­vived So­cial Demo­crat Party and, po­ten­tially, the Pi­rate Party — a nerdy group of fu­tur­ists, hack­ers, anar­chists and po­ets.

Among the no­table par­ties in the cur­rent race is Bright Fu­ture, known as a group of ide­al­is­tic hip­sters who say they shun the idea of be­com­ing ca­reer politi­cians. But the party is on course to lose most, if not all, of its seats, polls sug­gest.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.