Iceland's government coalition keeps majority

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Prime Minister Geir Haarde in 2006.
Image: Michael Gross, State Department Photographer.

With 99% of the votes counted, it appears that Iceland's ruling coalition has held on to a majority in parliament by just one seat.

Prime Minister Geir Haarde's Independence Party, picked up two additional seats for a total of 24. However, its coalition partner, the Progressive Party, went from 12 seats to 8.

This will give the coalition 32 of the 63 seats in Iceland's parliament.

Olafur Hardarson, professor of political science at the University of Iceland, told Reuters that there may still be coalition talks ahead, as the Progressive Party may leave the government because of their weak showing.

The leader of the Progressive Party, Jón Sigurðsson, failed to win his seat.

Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir's Alliance Party, would be the second choice for a coaltion partner, said Haarde.

Business and environment were key issues in the election. The pro-business Indpendence Party is in favor of further development of aluminum smelters in Iceland. Aluminum producers take advantage of Iceland's abundant geothermal power. This development has been an economic boon to Iceland.

The social democratic Alliance party has called for a halt on smelter development until the environmental impact is better known. Another key issue for the Alliance is for Iceland to seek entry into the European Union.