Reykjavik – Iceland on Sunday became the first country in Europe to have more women than men in parliament, in the aftermath of parliamentary elections that cast doubt on the future of the left-right coalition despite the ‘obtaining a clear majority.
Of the 63 seats in Althing’s parliament, 33 were won by women, or 52%, according to projections based on the final results presented on Sunday.
No other European country has had more than 50 percent of female legislators, with Sweden the closest with 47 percent, according to data compiled by the World Bank.
Five other countries in the world currently have parliaments in which women hold at least half of the seats, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union: Rwanda (61%), Cuba (53%), Nicaragua (51%) and Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. (50 percent).
Unlike other countries, Iceland does not have legal quotas on the representation of women in parliament, although some parties require a minimum number of candidates to be women.
The Nordic country has long been a pioneer in gender equality and women’s rights, and topped the World Economic Forum’s ranking of most equal countries for the past 12 years.
Iceland was the first country to elect a woman president in 1980.
“I am 85 years old, I have waited all my life for women to be in the majority … I am really happy,” Erdna, a resident of Reykjavik, told AFP.
– The future of the PM is uncertain –
While Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir’s left-right coalition won a majority in Saturday’s vote, it remained to be seen whether the three parties would continue to govern together.
The coalition brought Iceland four years of stability after a decade of political crises, but Jakobsdottir’s Left-Green Movement emerged weakened after losing ground to its right-wing partners, both of whom posted strong performances .
The Left-Green Movement, the Conservative Independence Party and the Center-Right Progressive Party together won 37 of 63 seats in parliament, compared to 33 they held before the vote.
But the Left-Green Movement itself won just eight seats, three fewer than in 2017, raising questions about Jakobsdottir’s future as prime minister.
The largest party remained the Independence Party, whose leader Bjarni Benediktsson – the current finance minister and former prime minister – is considering Jakobsdottir’s post.
It won almost a quarter of the vote and held on to its 16 seats.
But the big winner of the election was the center-right Progressive Party, which won five seats, against 13.
After four years of concessions from all sides to maintain peace within the coalition, it is conceivable that the two right-wing parties would want to attempt to form a government without the left-wing Greens.
Speaking to private broadcaster Stod 2 on Sunday, Jakobsdottir declined to participate in future coalition talks, saying only that his government received “remarkable” support in the elections.
– Strange bedfellows –
Progressive Party leader Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson and Independence Party leader Benediktsson both said on Sunday they were open to discussing a coalition prosecution, citing strong voter support for the government.
Benediktsson told Stod 2 that it was “normal for parties who have worked together for four years and have a good personal relationship” to try to continue together.
The unusual left-right coalition was born after the 2017 elections, with the aim of bringing stability to the nation after years of political upheaval.
Deep public distrust of politicians amid repeated scandals sent Icelanders to the polls five times from 2007 to 2017.
This is only the second time since 2008 that a government has come to the end of its four-year term on the sprawling island, and the first time since 2003 that a government has retained its majority.
Widely popular during his four-year tenure, Jakobsdottir introduced a progressive income tax system, increased the budget for social housing and extended parental leave for both parents.
She was also praised for her handling of the Covid-19 crisis, with only 33 deaths in the country of 370,000.
In European premiere, women are in the majority in Icelandic parliament
SourceIn European premiere, women are in the majority in Icelandic parliament