Iceland's Latest Prime Minister Is an Environmentalist and Feminist

Katrín Jakobsdóttir
Katrín Jakobsdóttir | © Nordforsk / Flickr
Camille Buckley

Something new was on the horizon after the catastrophic disassembling of Iceland’s last government party, in which it was revealed through the Panama Papers that the former prime minister was involved in some shady dealings during the financial crash of 2008. The answer to this call for revolutionary change in party politics – after having three prime ministers in two years – has been found in the new coalition government from across the political spectrum, which is being led by Iceland’s Left-Green party and its leader Katrin Jakobsdottir.

Alþingi (Althingi), Icelandic Parliament, Reykjavik

In November 2017, Jakobsdottir became the new prime minister, although her party didn’t gain the largest share of votes. The government will still be dominated by the long-standing (since the Second World War) center-right Independence Party, who will govern finance, foreign affairs, fishing, and business.

An agriculture-focused populist party, The Progressive Party, will also participate in the new coalition government, taking charge of transport, education, and welfare. While the Left-Green Party will be in charge of the prime minister’s seat, they will also be governing the health and environment ministry. Under this capacity, they have made plans to take actions beyond the Paris accord’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many have expressed their hope and confidence that this new broad-based coalition will promote stability after the many scandals that have erupted in Icelandic politics since the 2008 crash.

Iceland’s revolutionary new take on party politics in the form of a coalition is fittingly led by a new type of leader. Jakobsdottir, a former education minister, has great citations in opinion polls as being well-liked and trusted. As part of her campaign pledges, she vows to restore welfare benefits, make Iceland carbon neutral by 2040, promote gender equality, and make Iceland more open to receiving refugees. Jakobsdottir is Iceland’s second female prime minister after Johanna Sigurdardottir in 2009. Before delving into politics, the new prime minister researched crime novels and worked at the national television station RUV.

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