Iceland’s toppled Panama Papers ex-PM faces leadership challenge
Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Iceland’s former Prime Minister who was forced to resign following the Panama Papers scandal earlier this year, now faces the possibility of losing the leadership of his own party.
His challenger is Sveinbjörn Eyjólfsson, Head of the Bovine Centre of the Farmers Association of Iceland.
“If nobody else is going to stand against Sigmundur, then I’ll do it,” says Eyjólfsson. Members of the Progressive Party (‘Framsóknarflokkurinn’) will vote on their leader at the party’s upcoming conference on 1-2 October.
Gunnlaugsson has been leader of the Progressive Party since 2009 and became Prime Minister of Iceland in 2013. He was forced to stand down as PM after the Panama Papers scandal broke in April this year. He retained, however, his position as leader of the party.
“Party members must get the chance to vote on the situation that has arisen,” says Eyjólfsson. “He at least needs to get a renewed mandate. To my mind, given the events surrounding him, we must ascertain what support he has and how much trust is left.”
Gunnlaugsson’s challenger announced his leadership bid this weekend, with the caveat that he would quickly withdraw if any other “serious challenger” emerged.
“I just want to ensure that there is a real contest at the conference,” he explains. “At least people will be able to show their support for Sigmundur, vote blank, or vote for me.”