Icelanders go to the polls 3rd time in 4 years

2017-10-29 07:14
Bjarni Benediktsson, Prime Minister of Iceland, and leader of the Independence Party and his wife Thora Margret Baldvinsdottir cast their ballots in Gardabaer. (Brynjar Gunnarsson, AP)

Bjarni Benediktsson, Prime Minister of Iceland, and leader of the Independence Party and his wife Thora Margret Baldvinsdottir cast their ballots in Gardabaer. (Brynjar Gunnarsson, AP)

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Reykjavik - Icelanders were voting for the third time in four years on Saturday as the nation tried to shake off the latest political crisis on an island roiled by divisions since its economy was ravaged by the global financial crisis.

Voters weary of political and economic chaos are not expected to produce an outright winner. Polls suggest the election will only lead to complex negotiations over building a coalition government.

A record eight parties could cross the 5% threshold needed to qualify for seats in the Icelandic parliament, the Althingi. Upstart parties are benefiting from a series of scandals affecting the ruling Independence Party.

Political analysts say the most likely outcome eventually is a coalition government led by Katrin Jakobsdottir of the Left Green Movement. The 41-year-old Jakobsdottir holds a graduate degree in Icelandic literature and would be among the world's youngest leaders.

The election - whose themes have centred on stability and trust - was called in September amid allegations that the prime minister's father backed an effort to aid the job prospects of a convicted paedophile. Bjarni Benediktsson's government had come to power only last year after leaked documents linked his predecessor to bank accounts in offshore tax havens.

Economic upheaval has dogged this Nordic island nation of 330 000 after its debt-swollen banks collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis.

It is now experiencing a surge in tourism by those eager to see its pristine glaciers, fjords and waterfalls and the Northern Lights.


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