Go, Iceland! The country that gained notoriety for jailing 29 corrupt bankers has a new prime minister, and she is a pacifist environmentalist who believes in gender equality.
Katrin Jakobsdottir, 41, was elected to lead the small nation island of 340,000 residents after elections in October. Due to a series of scandals in the country, she is the third prime minister in the past four years.
Metro reports that an election was called by former PM Bjarni Benediktsson in September after his father suggested a pedophile, who repeatedly raped his stepdaughter for 12 years, should have his “honour restored.” Not even a year earlier, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned as PM once the public found out that his family had sheltered money in offshore tax havens.
Unlike her predecessors, Jakobsdottir campaigned on a platform to restore trust in government as well as leverage a boom in tourism to increase the public’s spending. Said Jakobsdottir at a news conference in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital:
“It is important that we try to change the way we work together. This agreement strikes a new chord.”
The 41-year-old is among the world’s youngest leaders. Jakobsdottir’s cabinet will be made up of three members of her Left-Green party, five from the right-wing Independence Party, and three from the Progressive Party. By “spanning the political spectrum from left to right,” a new tone will be established, says a statement issued by the new prime minister’s office.
“She is the party leader who can best unite voters from the left and right,” said Eva H. Onnudottir, a political scientist at the University of Iceland. “Because this coalition includes parties from the left to the right, their work will be more about managing the system instead of making ‘revolutionary’ changes. This could work quite well as long as the economy is stable and prosperous.”
Jakobsdottir comes from a prominent Icelandic family of poets, professors, and politicians. Before she entered politics, she wrote a thesis on an Icelandic crime novelist, Arnaldur Indridason and worked at the national broadcaster, RUV. The former education minister is often cited by opinion polls to be one of the most trusted and well-liked politicians in the small country. She is Iceland’s second female prime minister. Johanna Sigurdardottir was the first and took the post in 2009.
One of Jakobsdottir’s campaign goals is to make Iceland carbon neutral by 2040. At the news conference in Reykjavik, Jakobsdottir also stressed the importance of gender equality, vowed to counter the effects of climate change, and expressed willingness to welcome more immigrants. Her party also called for the implementation of a Constitution partly crowdsourced through social media. She continues to oppose the country’s membership in NATO.
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