Icelanders vote in volatile elections with climate in mind

REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Icelanders voted on Saturday in a general election dominated by climate change, with an unprecedented number of pol...


REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Icelanders voted on Saturday in a general election dominated by climate change, with an unprecedented number of political parties likely to win parliamentary seats.

Polls suggest there will be no outright winner, sparking complex negotiations to build a coalition government.

A record nine parties could cross the 5% threshold required to qualify for seats in the Icelandic parliament, the Althing. Successful parties include the Socialist Party, which promises to shorten the working week and nationalize the Icelandic fishing industry.

A high turnout is expected, as a fifth of eligible voters have already voted by mail.

Climate change is one of the top concerns for voters in Iceland, a volcanic island nation dotted with glaciers of about 350,000 people in the North Atlantic.

An unusually hot summer by Icelandic standards – 59 days of temperatures above 68 degrees Fahrenheit – and shrinking glaciers helped push global warming up the political agenda.

Polls show strong support for left-wing parties pledging to cut carbon emissions more than what Iceland has already pledged to under the Paris climate agreement. The country has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2040, a decade ahead of most other European countries.

The current government is a three-party coalition spanning the political spectrum from left to center-right and led by Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir of the Green Left Party. It was formed in 2017 after years of political instability.

Jakobsdottir remains a popular prime minister, but polls suggest his party could do poorly, ending the current coalition.

“The country faces big decisions as we turn away from the pandemic,” Jakobsdottir said in televised debates Friday night in which party leaders pledged to end Iceland’s dependence on oil and many wanted to raise taxes for the rich.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Icelanders vote in volatile elections with climate in mind
Icelanders vote in volatile elections with climate in mind
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