Presidential elections: is Iceland heading for a farce?

At least twelve candidates with just one round of voting ...

At least twelve candidates with just one round of voting - is this a recipe for disaster? Photo: Eggert Jóhannesson

If things remain as they are, the next President of Iceland could theoretically be voted in with just 8.5% of the electorate behind them.

With just fourteen weeks to go until the 2016 presidential elections, a total of twelve candidates have already officially entered the race – and there are still two months to go before the deadline for candidates closes.

Bessastaðir, the official residence of the President of Iceland.

Bessastaðir, the official residence of the President of Iceland. Photo: Brynjar Gauti

Iceland is the only republic in the world with a system for electing presidents which does not require the winning candidate to secure over 50% of overall votes – i.e. there is only one round and whoever gets the most votes becomes President of Iceland.

Should all twelve candidates remain in the race and enjoy similar popularity, the score required to secure Iceland’s top job could be lower than 9%.

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is one of Iceland's most popular presidents. However, ...

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is one of Iceland's most popular presidents. However, in 1980 when she took office, most voters didn't want her. Photo: Kristinn Ingvarsson

Since Icelandic independence, the highest number of official candidates has been four – in 1980 and 1996. In 1980, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir – the world’s first directly elected female Head of State – won with 33.8% of the vote, and in 1996 current President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson secured 41.4%.

As well as the current twelve official candidates, at least four more have declared that they are “considering” standing for President.

A question mark hangs over whether a president with just 8.4% of the electorate supporting them could claim to have democratic legitimacy as Iceland’s Head of State.

In other republics, it is the norm for the two ...

In other republics, it is the norm for the two candidates scoring highest in the first round to fight it out head-to-head in a second round and secure an absolute majority. Photo: YouTube screenshot

Iceland’s Bright Future party proposed an absolute-majority system back in October last year, in which a second ballot would be held between the two highest-scoring candidates, such that the eventual winner would have over 50% of votes cast. The proposal has not become law.

A gallery of the current twelve candidates can be seen below. Among the more amusing names doing the rounds in connection with the presidential elections is Humar Linduson Eldjárn – a lobster soft toy who sadly does not meet all the eligibility requirements for the post…

Lobster Linduson Eldjárn has over 700 supporters on Facebook.

Lobster Linduson Eldjárn has over 700 supporters on Facebook. Photo: Facebook

Related article:

How would you like to be President of Iceland?

Presidential candidates (so far)

Ari Jósepsson

Ari Jósepsson, YouTube personality.

Ari Jósepsson, YouTube personality.

 

Ástþór Magnús­son

Ástþór Magnússon, entrepreneur.

Ástþór Magnússon, entrepreneur. Photo: Golli

 

Bær­ing Ólafs­son

Bæring Ólafsson, former senior executive at Coca-Cola.

Bæring Ólafsson, former senior executive at Coca-Cola.

 

Elísa­bet Jök­uls­dótt­ir

Elísabet Jökulsdóttir, author.

Elísabet Jökulsdóttir, author. Photo: mbl.is/Þórður Arnar Þórðarson

 

Guðmund­ur Frank­lín Jóns­son

Guðmund­ur Frank­lín Jóns­son, businessman and politician.

Guðmund­ur Frank­lín Jóns­son, businessman and politician. Photo: Heiðar Kristjánsson

 

Halla Tóm­as­dótt­ir

Halla Tómasdóttir, entrepreneur and investor.

Halla Tómasdóttir, entrepreneur and investor. mbl.is/Árni Sæberg

 

Heim­ir Örn Hólm­ars­son

Heimir Örn Hólmarsson, electrical engineer.

Heimir Örn Hólmarsson, electrical engineer.

 

Hild­ur Þórðardótt­ir

Hild­ur Þórðardótt­ir, healer.

Hild­ur Þórðardótt­ir, healer. Photo: Hákon Davíð Björnsson

 

Hrannar Pétursson

Hrannar Pétursson, sociologist.

Hrannar Pétursson, sociologist. Mynd/aðsend

 

Sturla Jóns­son

Sturla Jónsson, lorry driver and politician.

Sturla Jónsson, lorry driver and politician. Photo: Kristinn Ingvarsson

 

Þorgrím­ur Þrá­ins­son

Þorgrímur Þráinsson, footballer and author.

Þorgrímur Þráinsson, footballer and author. Photo: mbl.is/Heiðar

 

Vig­fús Bjarni Al­berts­son

Vigfús Bjarni Albertsson, hospital chaplain.

Vigfús Bjarni Albertsson, hospital chaplain.

 

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