Might Iceland’s President be quitting after all?

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland.

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Eggert Jóhannesson

“I shall have to give some thought to how to respond to the dramatic changes of recent days,” Iceland’s President told radio listeners yesterday.

The arrival in quick succession of two new well-regarded candidates in the race to Bessastaðir [the official residence of the President of Iceland] must be taken into account, said Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson yesterday when asked whether or not he would be withdrawing his bid.

The race for Bessastaðir is hotting up.

The race for Bessastaðir is hotting up. Photo: Brynjar Gauti

Author and historian Guðni Th. Jó­hann­es­son and former Prime Minister of Iceland Davíð Oddsson have both thrown their hat into the ring in recent days.

While avoiding giving a clear reply to the question of whether his own bid is over, President Grímsson did admit that the two new candidates have “transformed” the situation as compared to when he put himself forward last month.

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson.

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Golli

Grímsson has now been President of Iceland for twenty years, and in his 2016 New Year’s speech he announced to the nation that he would not be running for a sixth consecutive term .

He then surprised Icelanders by changing his mind and announcing his decision to stand after all last month . He suggested on the Eyjan radio programme yesterday that his spectacular volte-face was due to a field of announced candidates none of whom enjoyed mass popularity.

Davíð Oddsson.

Davíð Oddsson. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Golli

But this has now changed and account must be taken of the fact, he said yesterday, hinting that he may after all NOT run for President but stopping short of announcing any official decision.

“Guðni is one of Iceland’s most qualified experts on the office of President and Davíð is the only living Icelander with as much experience as I in positions of State government,” he said. “There can hardly have been more dramatic a change in such a short time.”


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