Panama Papers: Iceland names new PM amid poll calls

2016-04-07 08:15
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

PICS: Panama Papers leak leads to mass protests in Iceland

Thousands of Icelanders took to the streets to call for their prime minister's resignation after leaked tax documents dubbed the "Panama Papers" prompted allegations that he and his wife used an offshore firm to hide million-dollar investments.

Iceland's government has named a new prime minister and called for early elections later in the year, a day after Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson quit, becoming the first politician brought down by the "Panama Papers" leaks.

The two coalition partners, the Progressive Party and the Independence Party, agreed after talks on late on Wednesday to hand the prime ministerial post to the agriculture minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, aged 53, of the former.

READ MORE: Panama Papers - huge leak alleges elites hiding money

"It is a big burden in this situation. It is not the most happy situation when I am taking the prime minister's seat but I will try to do my best and I am hoping that the people of Iceland will see that the new government will increase the stability both in politics and in governance," Johannsson told reporters.

The government said the decision to hold elections in autumn would give it time to follow through on one of the biggest economic policy changes in decades, the ending of capital controls introduced to rescue the economy from the 2008 financial crisis.

The opposition has been trying to force a new election with a vote of no confidence in the government, which could lead to a radical political shift.

Undisclosed firm

Gunnlaugsson quit as prime minister on Tuesday after leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm showed his wife owned an offshore company that held millions of dollars in debt from failed Icelandic banks.

The Panama documents revealed that Gunnlaugsson's wife owned a previously undisclosed firm with what the government says is $4.1m in claims on the island's collapsed banks. His opponents have said that represents a conflict of interest, because the government is negotiating the value of such claims.

"I feel that it is proper on this night to let the new prime minister have the stage, that the next prime minister is a solid and a good man so there is a good reason to congratulate Icelanders," he said before Johannsson spoke to the press.

Iceland has struggled to recover from the 2008 collapse of its highly indebted banks, which led to popular protests, the fall of a government and the jailing of many bankers. Many Icelanders still harbour a strong distrust of their leaders.

A few thousand demonstrators gathered for another evening of protests in front of the parliament building on Wednesday, some pelting parliament with yoghurt and eggs.

Read more on:    iceland  |  panama papers

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


And the Paws24 and Hill's winners are ...

Find out who the winners of our Paws24 pet pics and Q&a competitions are...



Keep your family and pets safe from rabies
5 scientific benefits of owning a cat
Why we love cats
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.