Leader of Iceland’s right given mandate to form government

President Jóhannesson (left) and Bjarni Benediktsson (right).

President Jóhannesson (left) and Bjarni Benediktsson (right). Photo: Iceland Monitor/Árni Sæberg

Leader of Iceland’s Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson will be given first crack of the whip at forming a new national government, it has just been announced.

Benediktsson was invited to the presidential residence of Bessastaðir for a meeting with President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson at 11am today.

Benediktsson’s Independence Party won a clear victory in Saturday’s general elections in Iceland, securing 29% of the vote.

The President met individually the leaders of all political parties with MPs in the new parliament yesterday and it is his task, in the light of these discussions, to decide who gets a mandate first to form a government.

The Icelandic Parliament, Alþingi.

The Icelandic Parliament, Alþingi. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Ómar Óskarsson

President Jóhannesson has just announced to press that that mandate will go the Bjarni Benediktsson and the Independence Party.

The Independence Party is one half of the outgoing government coalition. While the Independence Party improved its polling score by 2.3% as compared to the 2013 elections, its coalition partner the Progressive Party – badly damaged by the Panama Papers scandal – lost 12.5% and 11 MPs.

While the former government has therefore fallen, Bjarni Benediktsson has secured the confidence of the President to form a new government.

The Independence Party has 21 MPs in the new parliament and needs to find coalitions partners who can bring him eleven more, as a working majority in the 63-seat Icelandic parliament (‘Alþingi’) is 32.

Benediktsson has indicated to press that he will be speaking to the leaders of all political parties in the course of today.

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