Iceland | politics


The political system of Iceland

Iceland has a left–right multi-party system. Following the 2017 parliamentary election, the biggest parties are the centre-right Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn), the Left-Green Movement (Vinstrihreyfingin – grænt framboð) and the Progressive Party (Framsóknarflokkurinn). These three parties form the current ruling coalition in the cabinet led by leftist Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Other political parties with seats in the Althing (Parliament) are the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin), the Centre Party (Miðflokkurinn), Iceland's Pirates, the People's Party (Flokkur fólksins), and the Reform Party (Viðreisn).

Iceland was the first country in the world to have a political party formed and led entirely by women.[91] Known as the Women's List or Women's Alliance (Kvennalistinn), it was founded in 1983 to advance the political, economic, and social needs of women. After participating in its first parliamentary elections, the Women's List helped increase the proportion of female parliamentarians by 15%.[92] It disbanded in 1999, formally merging the next year with the Social Democratic Alliance, although about half of its members joined the Left-Green Movement instead. It did leave a lasting influence on Iceland's politics: every major party has a 40% quota for women, and in 2009 nearly a third of members of parliament were female, compared to the global average of 16%.[93] Following the 2016 elections, 48% of members of parliament are female.[94]

In 2016 Iceland was ranked 2nd in the strength of its democratic institutions[95] and 13th in government transparency.[96] The country has a high level of civic participation, with 81.4% voter turnout during the most recent elections,[97] compared to an OECD average of 72%. However, only 50% of Icelanders say they trust their political institutions, slightly less than the OECD average of 56% (and most probably a consequence of the political scandals in the wake of the Icelandic financial crisis).[98]


A 19th-century depiction of the Alþingi of the Commonwealth in session at Þingvellir

Iceland is a representative democracy and a parliamentary republic. The modern parliament, Alþingi (English: Althing), was founded in 1845 as an advisory body to the Danish monarch. It was widely seen as a re-establishment of the assembly founded in 930 in the Commonwealth period and yet temporaily suspended from 1799 to 1845. Consequently, "it is arguably the world's oldest parliamentary democracy."[99] It currently has 63 members, elected for a maximum period of four years.[100]

The head of government is the prime minister who, together with the cabinet, is responsible for executive government.

The president, in contrast, is elected by popular vote for a term of four years with no term limit. The elections for president, the Althing, and local municipal councils are all held separately every four years.[101] The president of Iceland is a largely ceremonial head of state and serves as a diplomat, but may veto laws voted by the parliament and put them to a national referendum.[102] The current president is Guðni Th. Jóhannesson.

The cabinet is appointed by the president after a general election to the Althing; however, the appointment is usually negotiated by the leaders of the political parties, who decide among themselves after discussions which parties can form the cabinet and how to distribute its seats, under the condition that it has a majority support in the Althing. Only when the party leaders are unable to reach a conclusion by themselves within a reasonable time span does the president exercise this power and appoint the cabinet personally. This has not happened since the republic was founded in 1944, but in 1942 regent Sveinn Björnsson, who had been installed in that position by the Althing in 1941, appointed a non-parliamentary government. The regent had, for all practical purposes, the position of a president, and Sveinn would later become the country's first president in 1944.

The governments of Iceland have always been coalition governments, with two or more parties involved, as no single political party has ever received a majority of seats in the Althing throughout the republican period. The extent of the political power possessed by the office of the president is disputed by legal scholars[which?], in Iceland; several provisions of the constitution appear to give the president some important powers, but other provisions and traditions suggest differently.[citation needed] In 1980, Icelanders elected Vigdís Finnbogadóttir as president, the world's first directly elected female head of state. She retired from office in 1996. In 2009, Iceland became the first country with an openly gay head of government when Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became prime minister.[103]

Administrative divisions

Iceland is divided into regions, constituencies and municipalities. The eight regions are primarily used for statistical purposes. District court jurisdictions also use an older version of this division.[62] Until 2003, the constituencies for the parliamentary elections were the same as the regions, but by an amendment to the constitution, they were changed to the current six constituencies:

The redistricting change was made to balance the weight of different districts of the country, since previously a vote cast in the sparsely populated areas around the country would count much more than a vote cast in the Reykjavík city area. The imbalance between districts has been reduced by the new system, but still exists.[62]

74 municipalities in Iceland govern local matters like schools, transport, and zoning.[104] These are the actual second-level subdivisions of Iceland, as the constituencies have no relevance except in elections and for statistical purposes. Reykjavík is by far the most populous municipality, about four times more populous than Kópavogur, the second one.[62]

Foreign relations

Nordic prime ministers and the president of Finland visiting the White House in 2016, with Iceland's Sigurður second from the left.

Iceland, which is a member of the UN, NATO, EFTA, Council of Europe and OECD, maintains diplomatic and commercial relations with practically all nations, but its ties with the Nordic countries, Germany, the United States, Canada and the other NATO nations are particularly close. Historically, due to cultural, economic and linguistic similarities, Iceland is a Nordic country, and it participates in intergovernmental cooperation through the Nordic Council.

Iceland is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), which allows the country access to the single market of the European Union (EU). It was not a member of the EU, but in July 2009 the Icelandic parliament, the Althing, voted in favour of application for EU membership[105] and officially applied on 17 July 2009.[106] However, in 2013, opinion polls showed that many Icelanders were now against joining the EU; following 2013 elections the two parties that formed the island's new government—the centrist Progressive Party and the right-wing Independence Party—announced they would hold a referendum on EU membership.[107][108]


Iceland has no standing army, but the Icelandic Coast Guard which also maintains the Iceland Air Defence System, and an Iceland Crisis Response Unit to support peacekeeping missions and perform paramilitary functions.

The Iceland Defense Force (IDF) was a military command of the United States Armed Forces from 1951 to 2006. The IDF, created at the request of NATO, came into existence when the United States signed an agreement to provide for the defense of Iceland. The IDF also consisted of civilian Icelanders and military members of other NATO nations. The IDF was downsized after the end of the Cold War and the U.S. Air Force maintained four to six interceptor aircraft at the Naval Air Station Keflavik, until they were withdrawn on 30 September 2006. Since May 2008, NATO nations have periodically deployed fighters to patrol Icelandic airspace under the Icelandic Air Policing mission.[109][110] Iceland supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq despite much domestic controversy, deploying a Coast Guard EOD team to Iraq,[111] which was replaced later by members of the Iceland Crisis Response Unit. Iceland has also participated in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Despite the ongoing financial crisis the first new patrol ship in decades was launched on 29 April 2009.[112]

Iceland was the neutral host of the historic 1986 Reagan–Gorbachev summit in Reykjavík, which set the stage for the end of the Cold War. Iceland's principal historical international disputes involved disagreements over fishing rights.[citation needed] Conflict with the United Kingdom led to a series of so-called Cod Wars, which included confrontations between the Icelandic Coast Guard and the Royal Navy over British fishermen, in 1952–1956 due to the extension of Iceland's fishing zone from 3 to 4 nmi (5.6 to 7.4 km; 3.5 to 4.6 mi), 1958–1961 following a further extension to 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi), 1972–1973 with another extension to 50 nmi (92.6 km; 57.5 mi); and in 1975–1976 another extension to 200 nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi).[citation needed]

According to the Global Peace Index, Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world, due to its lack of armed forces, low crime rate, and high level of socio-political stability.[113] Iceland is listed in the Guinness World Records book as the "country ranked most at peace" and the "lowest military spending per capita".[114]

Other Languages
Acèh: Islandia
Адыгэбзэ: Ислэнд
Afrikaans: Ysland
Akan: Iceland
Alemannisch: Island
አማርኛ: አይስላንድ
Ænglisc: Īsland
Аҧсшәа: Исландиа
العربية: آيسلندا
aragonés: Islandia
armãneashti: Islanda
arpetan: Islande
asturianu: Islandia
Avañe'ẽ: Iylanda
Aymar aru: Islandiya
azərbaycanca: İslandiya
تۆرکجه: ایسلند
bamanankan: Aisland
Bân-lâm-gú: Peng-tó
башҡортса: Исландия
беларуская: Ісландыя
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Ісьляндыя
भोजपुरी: आइसलैंड
Bikol Central: Islanda
Bislama: Iceland
български: Исландия
Boarisch: Island
bosanski: Island
brezhoneg: Island
буряад: Исланд
català: Islàndia
Чӑвашла: Исланди
Cebuano: Islandya
čeština: Island
Chamoru: Islandia
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Islandia
chiShona: Iceland
chiTumbuka: Iceland
corsu: Islanda
Cymraeg: Gwlad yr Iâ
dansk: Island
davvisámegiella: Islánda
Deutsch: Island
ދިވެހިބަސް: އައިސްލަންޑަން
Diné bizaad: Tin Kéyah
dolnoserbski: Islandska
डोटेली: आइसल्याण्ड
eesti: Island
Ελληνικά: Ισλανδία
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Islanda
español: Islandia
Esperanto: Islando
estremeñu: Islándia
euskara: Islandia
eʋegbe: Iceland
فارسی: ایسلند
Fiji Hindi: Iceland
føroyskt: Ísland
français: Islande
Frysk: Yslân
Fulfulde: Islannda
furlan: Islande
Gaeilge: An Íoslainn
Gaelg: Yn Eeslynn
Gagauz: İslandiya
Gàidhlig: Innis Tìle
galego: Islandia
ગુજરાતી: આઈસલેંડ
𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌹𐍃𐌺: 𐌴𐌹𐍃𐌰𐌻𐌰𐌽𐌳
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: आइसलँड
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Pên-tó
한국어: 아이슬란드
Hausa: Ayislan
Hawaiʻi: ʻĀina Hau
հայերեն: Իսլանդիա
हिन्दी: आइसलैण्ड
hornjoserbsce: Islandska
hrvatski: Island
Ido: Islando
Igbo: Iceland
Ilokano: Islandia
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: আইসল্যান্ড
Bahasa Indonesia: Islandia
interlingua: Islanda
Interlingue: Island
Ирон: Исланди
isiZulu: I-Ayisilandi
íslenska: Ísland
italiano: Islanda
עברית: איסלנד
Jawa: Èslan
Kabɩyɛ: Isilandɩ
kalaallisut: Islandi
Kapampangan: Islandya
къарачай-малкъар: Исландия
ქართული: ისლანდია
kaszëbsczi: Islandëjô
қазақша: Исландия
kernowek: Island
Kinyarwanda: Isilande
Kiswahili: Iceland
Kongo: Islande
Kreyòl ayisyen: Islann
kurdî: Îslenda
Кыргызча: Исландия
Ladino: Islandia
لۊری شومالی: ایسلند
latgaļu: Īslandeja
Latina: Islandia
latviešu: Islande
Lëtzebuergesch: Island
лезги: Исландия
lietuvių: Islandija
Ligure: Islanda
Limburgs: Iesland
lingála: Islandi
Lingua Franca Nova: Island
Livvinkarjala: Islandii
la .lojban.: island
Luganda: Isilandi
lumbaart: Islanda
magyar: Izland
मैथिली: आइसलैंड
македонски: Исланд
Malagasy: Islandy
മലയാളം: ഐസ്‌ലാന്റ്
Malti: Iżlanda
Māori: Tiorangi
मराठी: आइसलँड
მარგალური: ისლანდია
مازِرونی: ایسلند
Bahasa Melayu: Iceland
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Bĭng-dō̤
Mirandés: Eislándia
мокшень: Исланда
монгол: Исланд
မြန်မာဘာသာ: အိုက်စလန်နိုင်ငံ
Dorerin Naoero: Aiterand
Nederlands: IJsland
Nedersaksies: Ieslaand
नेपाली: आइसल्याण्ड
нохчийн: Исланди
Nordfriisk: Islönj
Norfuk / Pitkern: Iseland
norsk: Island
norsk nynorsk: Island
Nouormand: Islaunde
Novial: Islande
occitan: Islàndia
олык марий: Исландий
Oromoo: Aayislaandi
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Islandiya
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਆਈਸਲੈਂਡ
पालि: आइसलैंड
Pangasinan: Island
پنجابی: آئس لینڈ
Papiamentu: Islandia
پښتو: آیسلنډ
Patois: Aislan
Перем Коми: Исланд
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ប្រទេសអាយឡែន
Picard: Islinde
Piemontèis: Islanda
Tok Pisin: Aislan
Plattdüütsch: Iesland
polski: Islandia
Ποντιακά: Ισλανδία
português: Islândia
Qaraqalpaqsha: İslandiya
qırımtatarca: İslandiya
română: Islanda
rumantsch: Islanda
Runa Simi: Islandya
русиньскый: Ісландія
русский: Исландия
саха тыла: Исландия
Gagana Samoa: Aiselani
संस्कृतम्: आइसलैंड
Sängö: Islânde
sardu: Islanda
Scots: Iceland
Seeltersk: Ieslound
Sesotho: Iceland
shqip: Islanda
sicilianu: Islandia
Simple English: Iceland
سنڌي: آئس لينڊ
SiSwati: Echweni
slovenčina: Island
slovenščina: Islandija
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Исландъ
ślůnski: Islandyjo
Soomaaliga: Ayslaan
کوردی: ئایسلەند
Sranantongo: Islenikondre
српски / srpski: Исланд
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Island
Basa Sunda: Islandia
suomi: Islanti
svenska: Island
Tagalog: Iceland
Taqbaylit: Island
tarandíne: Islanne
татарча/tatarça: Исландия
తెలుగు: ఐస్‌లాండ్
tetun: Izlándia
тоҷикӣ: Исландия
Türkçe: İzlanda
Türkmençe: Islandiýa
тыва дыл: Исландия
удмурт: Исландия
українська: Ісландія
اردو: آئس لینڈ
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: ئىسلاندىيە
Vahcuengh: Binghdauj
vèneto: Islanda
vepsän kel’: Islandii
Tiếng Việt: Iceland
Volapük: Lisladeän
Võro: Island
walon: Izlande
文言: 冰島
West-Vlams: Ysland
Winaray: Islandya
Wolof: Islaand
吴语: 冰岛
Xitsonga: Iceland
ייִדיש: איסלאנד
Yorùbá: Íslándì
粵語: 冰島
Zazaki: İslanda
Zeêuws: Iesland
žemaitėška: Islandėjė
中文: 冰岛