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Iceland Mag


Negotiations on aisle-crossing Grand Coalition expected to be completed next week

By Staff

  • The three party leaders From the left: Bjarni Benediktsson (Independence Party), Katrín Jakobsdóttir (Left Greens) and Sigurður Ingi Jóhannesson (Progress Party). Photo/Ernir.

A new coalition government could take power by the end of next week as negotiations on a historic Grand Coalition near completion. Negotiations between the leaders of the Left Greens, the conservative Independence Party and the centrist Progress Party are said to proceed smoothly.

The coalition would first have to be approved by the national committees of the three parties. According to reports the three committees will meet at the middle of next week. Icelandic politics have not seen a Grand Coalition which includes the parties on the two opposite ends of the political spectrum since 1947.

Read more: Grand Coalition grows more likely as Left Green led talks on governing majority continue

Prime Minister will be from the Left Greens

Katrín Jakobsdóttir

Katrín Jakobsdóttir The next Prime Minister of Iceland? Photo/Vísir

Informal negotiations between the party leaders, Katrín Jakobsdóttir of the Left Greens, Bjarni Benediktsson of the Independence Party and Sigurður Ingi Jóhannesson of the Progress Party, began two weeks ago. On November 14 the negotiations had proceeded far enough for the leaders to request a formal mandate from the President of Iceland to form a government. The negotiations are led by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who is expected to become the next Prime Minister.

Other cabinet posts have not bee allocated. The Independence Party is expected to get five posts and the Left Greens and Progress Party three each. The Left Greens are rumored to be pressing for the ministries of the Environment and Health, in addition to the office of Prime Minister.

Sigurður Ingi Jóhannesson told the National Broadcasting Service RÚV that the reason for the relatively slow pace of the negotiations was that the party leaders were working their way through all major questions the government is expected to face. This includes a new budget bill for next year. 

Emphasis on infrastructure investment
Sigurður Ingi told RÚV that the three parties had yet to complete negotiations on key issues like tax policy, environmental issues and questions of women's rights. But while there were unresolved questions when it came to these key issues, he said the parties would be able to find common ground.

The key issue which the government will focus on is infrastructure investment. All three parties promised massive increases in spending on infrastructure in their election campaigns. There is widespread political agreement that the highway system is in dire need of repairs and new investment, although the parties have disagreed on how to finance these investments. The campaign of the Left Greens also emphasized investment in social infrastructure, in addition to physical infrastructure.

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