Icelanders Vote in Volatile Election 09/25 08:44
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) -- Icelanders were voting Saturday in a general
election dominated by climate change, with an unprecedented number of political
parties likely to win parliamentary seats.
Polls suggest there won't be an outright winner, triggering complex
negotiations to build a coalition government.
A record nine parties could cross the 5% threshold needed to qualify for
seats in Iceland's parliament, the Althing. Upstart parties include the
Socialist Party, which is promising to shorten the workweek and nationalize
Iceland's fishing industry.
High turnout is expected, as one-fifth of eligible voters have already cast
Climate change is high among voters' concerns in Iceland, a glacier-studded
volcanic island nation of about 350,000 people in the North Atlantic.
An exceptionally warm summer by Icelandic standards - 59 days of
temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius (68 F) -- and shrinking glaciers have
helped drive global warming up the political agenda.
Polls show strong support for left-leaning parties promising to cut carbon
emissions by more than Iceland is already committed to under the Paris climate
agreement. The country has pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2040, a decade
ahead of most other European nations.
The current government is a coalition of three parties spanning the
political spectrum from left to center-right and led by Prime Minister Katrin
Jakobsdottir of the Left Green Party. It was formed in 2017 after years of
Jakobsdottir remains a popular prime minister, but polls suggest her party
could fare poorly, ending the ongoing coalition.
"The country is facing big decisions as we turn from the pandemic,"
Jakobsdottir said during televised debates on Friday night in which party
leaders vowed to end Iceland's reliance on oil and many wanted to raise taxes
on the rich.