Sunday, October 30, 2016

Iceland Election - Final results (counting complete)

With the possible exception of ever-more translation misunderstandings, the final counts are complete and the results are in:

21 - Independence (Conservative)
10 - Left-Greens
10 - Pirate
8 - Progressive (Rural Liberal)
7 - Reform (Moderate Reformist)
4 - Bright Future (Left Reformist)
3 - Social Democrats

The big shocker is that the "government" has done so well. Expectations were that they would win roughly 5 fewer seats total, and the Opposition parties would win these 5 additional seats. It seems, however, that Icelandic voters think the government is doing an okay job, at least, when compared to the possibly "scary" options offered by the opposition.

The Government has won 29 seats, down 9, while the opposition has taken 27, up 2.

The remaining 7 seats have been won by the new Reform Party.

Reform, known as Vidreisen in Icelandic (also translatable as Revival or Regeneration) is the big winner, gaining 7 seats and entering Parliament. Their leader, Benedikt Johannesson, is a former member of Independence. He is also CEO of a large publishing company, and is the chief editor of Iceland's largest English newspaper. 

Lets also remember that something like 4 in 5 Icelanders speak English, and it's mandatory in School, (therefore, demographically leans young) meaning nearly any Icelandic visitor to this blog will be able to understand most if not all of it (Hello Iceland!) Not relevant to the election so much, but something I thought I should point out.

Bjarni Benediktsson, Independence leader, is now in the drivers seat. The opposition's unofficial coalition seems to be lead by Birgitta Jonsdottir, the Pirate Party leader, but her party has finished 3rd behind the Left-Greens, who are lead by Katrin Jakobsdottir. (I should point out that Icelandic surnames tend to follow a specific pattern, with dottir or sson being appended to the end of the father's first name, in fact, only 6 of the 63 MPs elected have other last names.)

Regardless, the result is that the Government might return to power with a new coalition partner. 

One interesting thing I see is media reports about the election. Any media that had been following the election is reporting that this election has been a failure for the Pirates; and given that the party was sitting on a whopping 29 seats in a poll on April 5th, it certainly seems that way. Media that have not been paying attention only see the change from the last election, more than tripling the seat total, and as a result, report it as a massive victory. 

The clear result, however, can be seen in the change from the poll average of the 5 most recent polls, seen on the right below, and the results, seen on the left hand side below:

29.0% - Independence - 24.7%
15.9% - Left-Greens - 16.4%
14.5% - Pirates - 19.4%
11.5% - Progressives - 10.1%
10.5% - Reform - 9.8%
8.3% - Bright Future - 7.1%
5.7% - Social Democrats - 6.5%

Or combined into the 'coalitions' outlined above:

40.5% - Conservative - 34.8%
44.4% - Opposition - 49.4%
10.5% - Reform - 9.8%

I should note here that while the Social Democrats and Left-Greens were very receptive to Pirate offers of a post-election coalition, both Reform and Bright Future hedged their bets. However, I am lumping Bright Future in with the Pirates et al for 3 key reasons.

1 - Their leader was the lead singer of a rock band and still looks like one. Most "respectable" (read: conservative) Icelandic politicians do not have long beards
2 - Their leader, and most of their party, comes from the "Best Party". A joke party that could be compared to the Rhino Party, that was formed out of protest, and won the Reykjavik elections; then proceeded to govern from an "outsider-left" platform
3 - The party had seats in the outgoing Parliament, and thus, was officially part of "the opposition" whereas Reform is a new party that had no members.

Bright Future supporters may disagree, but I do not see a realistic chance of the party entering into a coalition with Independence and the Progressives, whereas Reform may well do so, and, any left-wing coalition will require their support; meaning as a functional bloc, they are either not needed to get a majority, or needed in the opposition coalition.

Lastly, a note to readers. I've spoken to quite a few Americans about this election, and have given links to my blog. There's been some question from them about various "Liberal" parties that I noted. Please keep in mind that I write for a Canadian audience (this is something for Europeans who read as well). As such, when I use Liberal, I use it in the Canadian context. This means it's more right-wing than Americans think, and more left-wing than Europeans think. It's also why I, for example, chose "Reform" when presented with 3 options, as, Canada has indeed had a Reform party with some right-wing leanings; Though this party is nowhere near that right-wing. 

Context is always important, and I feel that sometimes that specific context - who I write for - is lost. As such, I wanted to ensure everyone was on the same page with regard to that issue. 


  1. The negotiations are starting. The Independence Party wants to lead a coalition with the Progressives and Reform, but Reform has today come out against that, so they may try to substitute Bright Future. Reform wants to lead a "liberal, centrist, reform" government, which Bright Future has endorsed. It's not clear how they would manage to get a majority of that type of government as the parties that at all resemble such a description (Ref, BF, Prog and SDA) only have 22 of the needed 32 seats. If they would add the Pirates, they would have a bare majority. The Pirates, for their part, are calling for a government made up of Left-Green, Reform and Bright Future and supported from the outside by the Pirates and the SDA. The SDA and Left Greens have stated a desire for a 5-way coalition of all current opposition parties and Reform. I haven't been able to find if the Progressives have stated a preferred coalition, but presumably would favor either a Ind/Prog/Ref or Ind/Prog/BF coalition, but considering how poorly they performed in the election and the last government they may prefer to stay in the opposition to give itself time to rehabilitate itself.

  2. Bright Future and Reform have united to form a united caucus, making them the second largest only behind Independence. They have had preliminary meetings with Independence, but have made clear they want no part in simply continuing the current government. They appear to want nothing to do with any coalition they don't lead. Independence has been given the Presidential mandate to have the first attempt to form government. It's unclear who the President will pick next if they fail. Will he pick the next largest party in the election (Left Green) or the next largest caucus in Parliament (Ref-BF).