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Negotiations on a historic grand coalition which would cross the political spectrum to unify the Left Greens, the conservative Independence Party and the centrist Progress Party, are still underway. The leaders of the three parties have expressed optimism that an agreement will be ready later this week. The chairwoman of the Left Green Movement, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, is expected to lead the government as Prime Minister.
Focus on issues, not cabinet posts
The three party leaders will continue their negotiations today. Sigurður Ingi Jóhannesson, the chairman of the Progress Party told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service that the negotiations had been going well even if they had been progressing somewhat more slowly than some had hoped. He said there were no major issues the three parties were unable to compromise on.
According to multiple reports the negotiations have focused on hammering out an agreement on how to solve the major issues awaiting the next government, including infrastructure investments, increased spending on education and healthcare, the building of a new National University and coming wage negotiations. The leaders of the three parties have said that the next government will be faced with monumental tasks which require a broad political agreement.
Questions about the division of cabinet position have not yet been addressed, according to reports.The Left Greens have stressed that Katrín Jakobsdóttir become the Prime Minister. In return for agreeing to this the Independence Party has demanded to receive more cabinet posts. Out of 11 cabinet posts the conservatives are rumored to receive 5, while the Left Greens and Progress Party would get 3 each. The conservatives are expected to head the ministry of Finance while the Left Greens are said to insist the party head the ministry of the Environment.
A historic coalition
Negotiations between the three parties began after formal talks on the formation of a center-left coalition broke down last week. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who led the negotiations on the center-left coalition, returned the formal mandate to form a government to the President of Iceland after the leader of the Progress Party rejected the center-left coalition as having too narrow a majority in parliament.
With the addition of the Progress Party the three left wing parties, the Left Greens, the Social Democratic Alliance and the Pirate Party which would have formed this coalition would only have had a majority of one seat in parliament. A grand coalition would have a more solid 35-28 seat majority.
A grand coalition which incorporates the two polar opposites of Icelandic politics has not been formed since 1944 when the conservative Independence Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Socialist Party, the predecessor of the Left Green Movement, formed a government to lay the foundation for the rebuilding of the Icelandic economy following the Second World War.
Responses to the coalition have been mixed on the left as many see the decision by the leadership of the left greens to enter negotiations with the conservatives as a betrayal of the party's values.
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