Iceland’s Independence Party Retains Most Seats After Election

But it was also a low point for the conservatives� coalition partners. The center-right Revival Party lost seats it had won last year, clinging to just four seats. Bright Future Party, a hipsterish party whose members shun the idea of becoming career politicians, lost every one of its four seats.

One unlikely winner among the smaller parties was the former prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson’s newly formed Center Party. His dark-horse campaign led his populist outfit to secure seven seats.

Mr. Gunnlaugsson won more than 10 percent of the vote, deploying his eccentric charisma to good effect and campaigning on a platform that promised to squeeze the banks and divvy up the proceeds for nationwide infrastructure.

“Gunnlaugsson’s politics follow the general trend we have seen lately in Western democracies towards anti-elitism, simplistic solutions and forms of nationalism,” said Jon Ormur Halldorsson, a political scientist at Reykjavik University.

The former prime minister was forced out of the government last year after the leaked Panama Papers revealed that Mr. Gunnlaugsson’s family had offshore holdings in the British Virgin Islands, setting off widespread protests over his perceived tax avoidance.

The scandal led to the collapse of the government and to early elections.

His Center Party, however, has now emerged as the fourth-largest, pushing the anti-establishment Icelandic Pirate Party down to sixth place with six seats.

It was a different reality from last year’s election results for the Pirates, a ragtag group of futurists, anarchists and hackers. In 2016, it surged to become Iceland’s third-largest party, largely because of an electorate disillusioned by traditional politics and scandals like Mr. Gunnlaugsson’s downfall.

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Katrin Jakobsdottir, center, leader of the Left-Green Movement, during a televised debate in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Friday.

Credit
Birgir Thor Hardarson/European Pressphoto Agency

Opinion polls had predicted that the environmentalist Left-Green Movement, a pacifist group that opposes Iceland’s membership in NATO, might emerge as the largest party and that its popular and charismatic leader, Katrin Jakobsdottir, would become the country’s fourth prime minister in two years.

But the polls were off the mark. The party, which had vowed to adopt a new constitution partly crowdsourced via social media, gained one seat to emerge with 11 � well short of expectations.

Such a mixed result opens up a kaleidoscope of coalition possibilities. Eight parties have entered the Althing in this election. After last year’s vote, it took months for a coalition to be brokered.

Mr. Halldorsson said that coalition talks might not play out so favorably for Mr. Gunnlaugsson despite his ambitions to become a kingmaker.

He is “an isolated figure,” Mr. Halldorsson said, one who “very few would relish working with.”

A more likely coalition partner, observers say, is the revived Social Democratic Party, a former establishment mainstay that had been badly punished in previous elections, and that has returned from electoral oblivion with seven seats. The party now shares the position of third-largest party with Mr. Gunnlaugsson’s Center Party.

In this small volcanic island of 340, 000, where voter turnout is generally high, the participation this year stood at a little over 81 percent.

One newcomer, the anti-immigrant People’s Party, defied the polls to get its first foothold in the Althing with four seats.

Iceland has seen voter dissatisfaction surge in the face of multiple scandals. Mr. Benediktsson called early elections last month after his government collapsed because of accusations of a cover-up of a letter of recommendation written by a prime minister’s father on behalf of a convicted child-sex offender.

One of his administration’s partners, Bright Future, quit the coalition. The government had been formed a mere 10 months before, born of early elections called after Mr. Gunnlaugsson’s abrupt resignation.

One bright spot: The country has managed to recover from the brutal aftermath of the global financial collapse of 2008. But the political landscape is fraught with scandals.

Mr. Halldorsson, the political scientist, said, � ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************) the economy has fully recovered, the political crisis set in motion by the economic collapse in 2008 continues to deepen.

� ***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************) main message of the elections is that business as usual is no longer an option for the political system. What may be required is more use of direct democracy and far more transparency in government business and dealings between parties. � ****) Continue reading the m

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